Republicans Pledge Support For IVF As They Block Bill Protecting Access

WASHINGTON — All 49 Senate Republicans signed a statement on Thursday vowing to “strongly support continued nationwide access to” in vitro fertilization, saying the procedure has “allowed millions of aspiring parents to start and grow their families.”

At the same time, Republicans filibustered legislation in the Senate that would enshrine into federal law a right for individuals to receive IVF treatment as well as for doctors to provide treatment, calling the measure unnecessary and a political show vote.

“How strange — all 49 Republicans are willing to sign a piece of paper saying they like IVF, but virtually none of them seem willing to actually vote for a bill that protects IVF,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday. “It shows you how afraid they are of the issue, but how they’re tied in a knot by the MAGA hard-right on choice, and they can’t do anything that the American people want.”

The Right to IVF Act was put on the floor by Democrats as a way to highlight the contrast between the two parties on reproductive rights ahead of the November election. Republicans also blocked a similar effort to codify the right to contraception earlier this month.

In another defensive move, Republicans this week sought to pass their own bill seeking to protect access to IVF services. The legislation, authored by Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Katie Britt (Ala.), would have revoked Medicaid funding to any state that enacts an outright ban on access to IVF. But Democrats blocked the measure, saying it contained loopholes that allowed states to restrict IVF.

“Calling your bill The IVF Protection Act without doing anything to protect IVF is despicable,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), sponsor of the Right to IVF Act, said of the GOP bill during a Wednesday press conference. “It is akin to an arsonist selling you fire insurance that doesn’t cover arson.”

Cruz, who has softened his tone this year as he seeks reelection, meanwhile, accused Democrats of “playing politics” on IVF, adding they want to “scare voters rather than actually protect IVF.”

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling in February that declared that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law didn’t ban the procedure outright. IVF providers in the state nevertheless responded by ceasing to offer services for fear of being held legally liable if embryos were destroyed. The GOP state legislature later passed a bill extending protections for IVF providers.

Democrats contend that other states could mount similar efforts to block or curtail IVF services. On Wednesday, the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, voted to oppose IVF, a move that “may signal the beginning of a broad turn on the right against IVF,” Politico reported.

Americans broadly support IVF, with 82% of respondents in a recent Gallup poll saying it is morally acceptable. But views on destroying frozen human embryos created by in vitro fertilization were more mixed, with support among Republicans falling off substantially.

“Senate Republicans who like to pretend that IVF is not under threat should have a word with the likes of the Heritage Foundation and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America,” Schumer said Thursday. “These organizations are some of the most influential authorities in conservatism and on the Republican Party, and they are making it plain as day that IVF is the hard-right’s next project.”