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Democratic effort to protect IVF runs into Republican opposition

There’s a sizable gap between what Republicans are willing to say and what Republicans are willing to do when it comes to protecting IVF.


As a matter of political rhetoric, Republican officials and candidates realize that most Americans are supportive of in vitro fertilization. It helps explain why GOP leaders responded to the Alabama Supreme Court’s recent ruling by going to great lengths to say that Republicans love IVF: The party is terrified of the kind of backlash it faced after the demise of Roe v. Wade.

But as a matter of IVF policymaking, there’s a gap between what Republicans are willing to say and what Republicans are willing to do. NBC News reported:

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi blocked passage of legislation Wednesday that would protect access to in vitro fertilization. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and brought to the floor for consideration under unanimous consent — meaning one senator could block it from passage — would provide federal protections for IVF.

This wasn’t an instance in which legislation came to the floor and every senator had an opportunity to cast an up-or-down vote. Rather, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois sought unanimous consent — a procedural move designed to help quickly advance uncontroversial measures — on the “Access to Family Building Act.”

There was no real reason for any member of the Senate GOP minority to balk. The Democratic bill, which now has 46 co-sponsors, would create legal protections for IVF at the national level. If recent Republican rhetoric were true, and there’s a bipartisan consensus in support of the reproductive health treatments, the legislation should’ve been able to clear the chamber with ease.

What’s more, even if Republican rhetoric were insincere, the party could’ve simply let the bill advance anyway, confident in the knowledge that it would almost certainly be ignored in the GOP-led House.

But the Democratic bill ran into Republican opposition anyway.

Some might be tempted to give other Senate Republicans a pass, but it's worth noting for context that no other GOP members denounced Mississippi's Hyde-Smith for blocking unanimous consent.

The developments did not go unnoticed at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“The idea that Senate Republicans would block a vote to protect access to in vitro fertilization — IVF — is outrageous,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a written statement. “After the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling put IVF on pause in much of the state, and raised issues about whether it would be available in other states, congressional Republicans rushed to the microphones to proclaim their support for IVF. But when Senator Tammy Duckworth offered a bill to protect access to IVF in every state, Senate Republicans said no.”

The presidential spokesperson added, “We must be clear-eyed about how we got here. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it paved the road for Republican elected officials’ extreme, out-of-touch agenda which has eroded access to reproductive health care for families in Alabama and across the country. No attempts by Republican elected officials to ‘rebrand’ can change the fact that they have spent decades trying to eliminate the constitutional right to choose and undermine reproductive freedom.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered related remarks on the chamber floor ahead of Duckworth’s effort, blaming the GOP for the entire mess. “Republicans are like the arsonist who set the house on fire and then said, ‘Why is it burning?’” the New York Democrat said. “Amazing, confounding, perturbing, and sad.”

Schumer added, “Democrats remain absolutely committed to doing everything, everything we can to protect women, families, reproductive freedom.”

It’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last of this.

Postscript: Rep. Anna Luna of Florida was the only Republican in either chamber co-sponsoring legislation to protect IVF access at the national level. Yesterday, she formally withdrew her support for the bill, lowering the total number of GOP supporters on Capitol Hill to zero.