(NEW YORK) — Experts are speaking out after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that frozen embryos qualify as people under state law, a decision that critics say could threaten families’ access to fertility treatments in the post-Roe era.

In an unprecedented decision, the state’s highest court ruled that “unborn children are ‘children’ … without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics.”

Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker quoted the Bible in a concurring opinion, citing the sanctity of unborn life.

Dr. Mamie McLean, an infertility specialist at Alabama Fertility in Birmingham, Alabama, told ABC News’ Good Morning America the court’s historic ruling could impact the future of in vitro fertilization treatments for those trying to access fertility treatments, adding that for her, the ruling left more open questions than answers.

“We’re concerned that this ruling has far-reaching consequences for what we feel is safe to freeze and safe to discard,” McLean said.

Doctors like McLean warn the ruling could block access to IVF, make the process more expensive, or lead to some clinics closing altogether because of legal risks.

“This ruling is so incomplete and it leaves those of us who are sitting face to face with patients … with the inability to comment on what is safe and what is legal for them right now,” McLean added.

The case on which the court ruled Friday involved two couples who sued a patient who had managed to access the freezer that stored frozen embryos at an Alabama fertility clinic. The patient picked up multiple embryos and accidentally dropped and destroyed them. The high court ruled that the patient could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.

“We have kind of what is just a brand new landscape for the law,” Jasmine Matlock, an attorney and founding partner of M&H Legal Services in Guntersville, Alabama, told GMA.

“At this point, there is no decision on when a physician or a clinic can conclude storing these embryos so they are potentially liable for the wrongful death of an embryo after the parents have passed,” Matlock added.

Fertility treatments have been on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center, and in 2021, more than 238,000 families in the U.S. relied on IVF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Multiple embryos are often frozen to increase the likelihood that one will successfully implant.

Alabama is one of 13 states that implemented a total ban on abortions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had protected the constitutional right to abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also expected to rule on another case about abortion pill access in the coming months.

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