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Fox News buries Alabama frozen embryo ruling imperiling IVF, giving it just 6 minutes of coverage

CNN and MSNBC each devoted over 3 hours to Alabama's radical “personhood” ruling, but Fox really doesn't want to talk about it

  • A recent all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are legally equivalent to children has been largely buried by Fox News. The widely unpopular ruling that could pressure clinics to stop providing in vitro fertilization (IVF) services has received over 3 hours of coverage on both CNN and MSNBC, but only 6 minutes on Fox. 

    According to a Media Matters review, Fox News devoted just 6 minutes of coverage to the ruling and its consequences from February 16 through noon on February 23, even as Alabama fertility clinics shut down IVF treatments in response. MSNBC and CNN meanwhile dedicated 3 hours 45 minutes and 3 hours 13 minutes, respectively, to the ruling. While MSNBC and CNN each hosted numerous reproductive health experts and prospective parents seeking IVF treatment who have been affected by the ruling, Fox's only guest to discuss the ruling was Fox News Sunday anchor Shannon Bream.


  • Cable news coverage of Alabama ruling that frozen embryos are people, imperiling IVF
  • The Alabama case focused on whether former IVF patients could file wrongful death lawsuits against the fertility clinic they had used to conceive children after another patient who breached the clinic’s cryogenic storage facility mistakenly destroyed their leftover embryos. The court ruled that they could, holding that under state law, “unborn children are ‘children’ ... without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics.” The Alabama Supreme Court’s radical “personhood” ruling could have dire implications for would-be parents seeking to conceive through IVF in the state — and beyond its borders. At least three of Alabama’s eight clinics paused IVF treatments, fearing potential legal liability. 

    Despite the consequences of the ruling, Fox News largely avoided covering it — mimicking the response from Republicans who are struggling to respond and running away from the decision. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out guidance to Republican Senate candidates urging them to “clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF.” It seems like Fox was unprepared to deal with the fallout from its long-touted anti-choice agenda

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC, for any of the terms “Alabama,” “Supreme Court,” or “court” within close proximity of any of the terms “IVF,” “in vitro fertilization,” “fertility,” “embryo,” “baby,” “freeze,” “frozen,” or “reproductive” or any variation of either of the terms “surrogate” or “child” from February 16, 2024, when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos frozen for in vitro fertilization are children, through 12 p.m. ET on February 23, 2024.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the ruling. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the ruling.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment about another topic mentioned the Alabama Supreme Court ruling without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the ruling scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.