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Republican Senators Accuse Dems Of ‘Political Theater’ Over IVF Bill

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The vast majority of Republican senators voted on Thursday to block a Democrat-led effort to broadly codify in vitro fertilization protections into federal law.

Just two GOP senators — traditional moderates Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — voted with Democrats in the 48-47 vote, Newsweek reported.

The process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) includes retrieving eggs from the woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then cultured before being transferred into the woman’s uterus, the outlet reported.

IVF treatment became a heated political topic after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling federally guaranteeing abortion access, in June 2022, and sent the issue back to individual states for them to decide, which is how it was before the 1973 Roe ruling.

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An Alabama Supreme Court ruling in February mandated that frozen embryos used in IVF must be legally treated as children under state law. However, the state Legislature later reversed the decision by passing a new measure.

Republican senators criticized the Democrats’ Right to IVF Act, which required 60 votes for passage, as overreaching. Instead, they introduced their own legislation, which Democrats said didn’t go far enough and blocked on Wednesday.

“The Senate Democrats’ bill aimed to protect in vitro fertilization and ensure it is covered under health insurance for federal employees, among other measures meant to expand access. Republicans accused Democrats of drafting overly broad legislation designed to score political points and scare voters. Ahead of the vote, all 49 Senate Republicans signed a letter backing IVF,” The Wall Street Journal explained.

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Republicans argue that IVF is not currently under any legal or congressional threat, and they consider the recent vote on this issue to be purely political posturing in light of the upcoming November election, where the control of the White House, Senate, and House are all at stake. They also argue that the Democrats’ proposed legislation extends beyond the primary goal of protecting access to IVF and question its cost to taxpayers.

“I love IVF,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), a member of party leadership. “But what the Democrats are proposing? No.”

Sen. Roger Marshall (R., Kan.), an obstetrician, told the WSJ that the package was “broad and vague” and that there was “no freedom for conscientious objection.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, one of a pair of GOP senators facing competitive races this fall, said that there are “millions of parents who are confused and who are frightened,” in part because of the Alabama ruling. “You also have Democrats that very cynically are trying to scare voters,” he said.

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Cruz and Senator Katie Britt (R., Ala.) offered their own measure on IVF, requesting unanimous consent for a bill that would revoke Medicaid funding from states that do not protect it. Democrats blocked the measure.

Senate Republicans generally support IVF, but some conservative groups want to regulate the procedure to ensure that no embryos are destroyed. Usually, multiple embryos are created during IVF, but not all are used. Some anti-abortion groups consider embryos to be human life and believe that IVF does not align with their values, the Journal added.

According to a recent Gallup survey, four out of five Americans support in-vitro fertilization (IVF). However, the survey also revealed that only 49% of respondents believed it was morally acceptable to destroy frozen human embryos created during the IVF process, while 43% considered it wrong. The discrepancy in opinion was particularly pronounced among conservative and religious participants, the WSJ reported.

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