Senate Democrats Put Forward New Plan To Protect IVF

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 03, 2024

Democrats in the US Senate have announced a legislative solution to protect the practice of in vitro fertilization in America following recent concerns over legislation and court rulings that might see it banned in some states.

The Democrats responsible for these bills place the blame on the Supreme Court and Republicans, saying this legislative package would establish a right to IVF for people struggling with infertility.

Right to IVF Act

The legislative effort is led by Senators Tammy Duckworth, Patty Murray, Cory Booker, and other Democrats. It involves four bills put together in a package called The Right to IVF Act.

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Having been previously introduced, these bills will make IVF more affordable, increase its access, reduce liability for doctors, require more insurers to cover IVF, and establish a statutory right for people to gain access to the procedure.

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What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a class of medical procedures that inseminate an egg for reproduction outside of the womb, where they are then reinserted as an embryo.

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A scientist in an IVF laboratory works on the process of in virto fertlilzation

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According to the Mayo Clinic, IVF is the most effective type of fertility treatment that involves eggs, embryos, and sperm.

Duckworth Statement

In a statement defending IVF, Senator Duckworth threw the blame at Republican’s feet.

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Senator Tammy Duckworth photographed smiling in 2017.

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“In the nearly two years since the Supreme Court threw out Roe v. Wade, our nation has seen the horrific consequences of Republicans’ anti-science, anti-woman crusade that has put IVF at risk for millions of Americans who rely on it to start or grow their family,” said Duckworth.

Republican Attacks

Senator Murray framed Republican attacks on women’s reproductive rights as constant, and that they are putting pregnant women in danger.

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“Republican attacks on reproductive rights since the Dobbs decision have not stopped at abortion—their reckless crusade to criminalize basic reproductive health care and give embryos the exact same rights as living, breathing human beings has put IVF in jeopardy and endangered the lives of pregnant women,” Murray said.

IVF Ruling

The recent political enthusiasm around the IVF issue became elevated after the Alabama Supreme Court delivered a stunning February ruling that embryos are children. This ruling would allow couples to sue for the wrongful death of these embryos, which could threaten to upend the practice because of liability.

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In the wake of the ruling, some fertility clinics in Alabama had to pause IVF treatments while the implications were being figured out.

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Support for IVF

Although Democrats assert that Republicans through their actions are threatening IVF, many Republicans are supportive of the procedure.

An IVF center that specializes in in vitro fertilization treatments.

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Donald Trump affirmed his support for IVF following the Alabama ruling, saying he “strongly support[s] the availability of IVF” and insisted that Alabama lawmakers need to work to preserve access to the procedure.

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Political Landscape

IVF has emerged as a flashpoint issue ahead of the United States general election contest. A CBS News/YouGov poll in March found that an overwhelming 86 percent of Americans surveyed think IVF should be legal. Republicans have tried to distance themselves from being seen as anti-IVF despite traditionally having a pro-life stance. 

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“This was the ruling of the court that I believe that the Alabama state legislators are probably going to fix, but as I reiterate: This is not the position of [the] Republican Party or the pro-life movement at all,” said Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin of the Alabama decision.

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Competing Bill

Republicans also have their own competing IVF bill, introduced in the wake of the Alabama ruling. The desire for both parties to be the ones to take credit for protecting IVF has caused a bit of a political standoff.

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In the meantime, 13 states have introduced 23 fetal personhood bills, which if passed could make the procedure illegal.

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Republicans Hiding Their Views

Democrats have accused Republicans, including former President Trump, of hiding their true opinions on fertility access because they are afraid of the poll numbers.

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“Unlike GOP legislation that would not protect IVF and is only a PR tool for Republicans to hide their extremism, our Right to IVF Act would actually protect Americans from attempts to restrict IVF and would allow more people to access these vital services at a lower cost,” said Murray.

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Pro-Life Stance

Some conservative groups have maintained a pro-life stance, and have been disappointed by Republican party leaders’ position on reproductive issues, including former president Donald Trump.

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“We are deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections and national advocacy from the brutality of the abortion industry. The Dobbs decision clearly allows both states and Congress to act.”

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Restoring Roe v. Wade

Democrats, including Senator Murray, have a desired goal of restoring the protections granted by Roe v. Wade for reproductive rights in America.

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“My ultimate goal is to restore Roe v. Wade and obviously to protect doctors, to make sure that we have access to IVF, to make sure that doctors are not jailed for decisions they make that are medically appropriate,” Murray said at a news conference. “Every time, we’ve been rejected by Republicans.”

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