Republican IVF Bill Fails in Senate

( – In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment whereby a woman’s eggs are collected through surgical means, fertilized outside the womb, stored, and implanted to induce pregnancy. The fertilized eggs left over are either stored for future use or destroyed. In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that if couples in the state lost their frozen embryos in an accident, they could sue for wrongful death, prompting the closure of IVF clinics in the state for fear of litigation. Now, Congress is making moves to address the issue.

What Happened?

In May, Senators Katie Britt (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill, the IVF Protection Act that would halt Medicaid funding from any state that bans IVF. Britt called the legislation “commonsense,” adding that the bill “affirms both life and liberty.” Cruz said the treatment gave “miraculous hope” to families across America. On June 12, the legislation failed in the Senate. While Britt and Cruz insisted the bill would ensure that couples keep access to IVF, Democrats said the legislation did not provide any real protections.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said the act proposed by the GOP senators would “enact burdensome and unnecessary” regulations on the practice that could result in IVF clinics fearing legal ramifications and closing their doors. Murray said the bill “does absolutely nothing” to ensure that families can allow clinics to “dispose of unused embryos” without legal repercussions. She accused the Republicans of introducing the measure as a PR stunt rather than providing a substantive solution for protecting the fertility practice. Cruz tried to have his and Britt’s bill passed by unanimous consent, but Murray stopped it. Instead, Democratic senators invited their colleagues across the aisle to join their IVF legislation instead.

The Other Bill

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) co-sponsored another bill addressing IVF. The legislation would enhance IVF protections and has 47 co-sponsors. Duckworth asked Republicans in the Senate to join the bill and “make it bipartisan,” adding that she couldn’t “see why they wouldn’t join it.” According to the Illinois senator, “90% of Republicans” didn’t sign on to Britt’s bill. Duckworth claimed that the GOP is posing a very real threat to IVF, stating you cannot support IVF and “embryonic personhood” simultaneously. She said the Britt/Cruz bill would “enshrine fetal personhood into law and make IVF unavailable nationwide.”

Senate Republicans are not expected to support the Democratic legislation. It’s not clear if they will work together in the future for a bipartisan bill.

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