Republicans Just Proved Their Claims to Support IVF Are Bullshit

On Wednesday, Republicans tanked a bill to protect IVF…after they spent the better part of last week lying their asses off saying they support it following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling.

Republicans Just Proved Their Claims to Support IVF Are Bullshit
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). Photo: Shutterstock

Senate Republicans have yet again tanked a bill that would have established federal protections for IVF. In a unanimous consent vote held Wednesday evening, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) rejected the bill, calling it a “vast overreach” that’s “full of poison pills that go way too far, far beyond ensuring legal access to IVF.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who introduced the bill and has two children through IVF herself, disputed Hyde-Smith’s nonsense argument, clarifying that her Access to Family Building Act would simply establish a federal right to fertility treatments and protect health care providers’ right to offer these treatments without the threat of prosecution. Incidentally, Hyde-Smith is the same senator who blocked an identical bill that Duckworth introduced in December 2022. 

Since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that anyone who destroys frozen embryos can be liable for “wrongful death,” several fertility clinics in the state have paused IVF services. The procedure involves the routine destruction of unused embryos and often requires multiple attempts to be successful. While the ruling didn’t explicitly ban IVF and the Alabama attorney general’s office says it won’t prosecute IVF, fertility clinics still fear being bankrupted by wrongful death suits. 

Duckworth’s bill to protect IVF wasn’t just common sense but it was also a strategic effort to force Senate Republicans to self-incriminate, as Republican politicians across the country have been tripping over themselves to lie that they support IVF. Of course, even before this vote, we knew that was bullshit: As Jezebel reported last week, most House Republicans who recently claimed to support IVF in January 2023 sponsored a bill to recognize that life begins at conception.

“If you truly care about the sanctity of families, if you’re genuinely interested in protecting IVF, you need to show it by not blocking this bill today,” Duckworth said on the Senate floor shortly before the Wednesday vote. Welp, thanks to Hyde-Smith’s stunt, it’s now even more clear where Congressional Republicans stand. And it would be even clearer had senators voted on the bill without unanimous consent, with each senator going on the record with their vote rather than one lone senator—Hyde-Smith—killing it.

In addition to Hyde-Smith, other Republican senators have continued to offer disturbing comments about IVF throughout the past week. Alabama’s very own Sen. Tommy Tuberville couldn’t answer a basic question about the Alabama ruling on Thursday, first emphatically stating that he supports it, then saying he’d have to read the bill (there was no bill, it was a court ruling). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said “No one has IVF to destroy life, they have IVF to create life,” but then said that “unfortunately,” the creation of unused embryos in the IVF process poses a “quandary.” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said she supports IVF but wouldn’t say embryos aren’t children, which… is definitionally antithetical to supporting IVF!

The Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling has already proven an unmitigated disaster for IVF patients across the state, who haven’t even been permitted to transport their embryos to different states and are currently locked in a devastating limbo. And even before the ruling, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, legal questions have long loomed about the future of fertility treatments. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was caught on hot mic advocating for restrictions on IVF in 2022. ProPublica released audio of Tennessee lawmakers debating the right time to start going after IVF and birth control post-Roe, also in 2022. Shortly after Roe fell, the Wall Street Journal reported that patients were asking their IVF providers to move their embryos to states that protect abortion rights. 

“Federal IVF protections are essential to ensure every family across the country has access to this critical healthcare. Blocking a bill to protect in-vitro fertilization access nationwide is a terrible development in this ongoing nightmare for families, who are afraid of what will happen if they are barred from this treatment,” Barbara Collura, CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, said in a statement shared with Jezebel after Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill. Last week, Collura warned that the Alabama court’s decision will have “profound implications far beyond Alabama’s borders.”

“Over the past several days, we have heard from countless Alabama residents who have been devastated by the State Supreme Court ruling that abruptly halted access to their in-vitro fertilization treatments and rights over their embryos,” Collura said on Wednesday. “Through their despair, mothers and fathers-to-be have sent one clear message to lawmakers: support our dream to build our families.”

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