Senate GOP blocks Democrats' efforts to protect IVF rights

By Clyde Hughes & Chris Benson
The Senate voted Thursday on a package of bills aiming to protect access to in vitro fertilization. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
1 of 5 | The Senate voted Thursday on a package of bills aiming to protect access to in vitro fertilization. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans Thursday blocked a series of Democratic-lead bills to protect in vitro fertilization, or IVF, following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that says embryos should be considered children.

The effort failed to go forward in a 48-47 procedural vote that needed 60 votes to advance. Thursday's vote on the Democrat-lead effort only had two Republicans join them, both women.


"The disregard for a woman's right to make these decisions for herself and her family is outrageous and unacceptable," President Joe Biden said in a statement following Thursday's Republican block.

Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., sponsored the Right to IVF Act, which includes four bills aimed at ensuring rights for patients to undergo the procedure and doctors to provide, as well as increasing accessibility by lowering costs.


"Why should we vote for a bill that fixes a non-existent problem? There's not a problem. There's no restrictions on IVF, nor should there be," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters.

"Protecting IVF, like protecting contraception, is not a show vote," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier. "Every single Republican needs to answer clearly for the record: Do you want our laws to protect IVF or do you want laws that say frozen embryos have the same rights as living, human beings? You cannot have both."

Duckworth, an Army veteran who used IVF to conceive her two children, introduced measures to enshrine protections for IVF and other assisted reproductive services into law and expand access to fertility treatments for veterans and service members.

Other measures would aim to make treatments more affordable by requiring insurance plans to include coverage for IVF and protect providers of the services from facing legal liability for discarded embryos.

Both had previously been brought before the Senate earlier this year but were blocked by Republican senators.

"Once again, Senate Republicans refused to protect access to fertility treatments for women who are desperately trying to get pregnant," Biden said. "And just last week, Senate Republicans blocked nationwide protections for birth control."


The package was unlikely to pass from the start amid continued opposition for Republicans, who have complained that the four Democratic bills were made to be future campaign material rather than something that could become law.

"Despite claiming to support IVF, Senate Republicans blocked my Right to IVF Act," Duckworth posted on X Thursday afternoon after the vote as she pointed out that was the third such time Republicans blocked IVF protection legislation.

"This is who Republicans are," the Illinois Democrat said.

But both major political parties, Democrat and Republican, have each put forward their own versions of a bill over the last few months they claim will protect IVF. However, both parties have continually voted against each other's legislation.

A failed Republican attempt to address the issue in the Senate would have denied federal funds to those not protecting IVF but did not address the issue of protecting providers from legal action for discarding embryos.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted with Democrats on the bill along with her colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a fellow Republican who earlier said she would vote for the bills to show that the GOP is, she believes, not against IVF, but nonetheless Collins claimed the bills were "clearly not a serious attempt at legislating."


"Republicans talk a big game," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, posted on social media, adding how "talk is cheap" as she predicted Senate Republicans would "vote to block protections for IVF, just like they did for contraception."

"Only Democrats are fighting to protect abortion, contraception, and IVF," Warren said.

Biden said in his statement that Republican officials "have had every opportunity to protect reproductive freedom" since the Supreme Court's "extreme decision" to overturn Roe v. Wade, "but they refuse to do so."

He added Thursday afternoon that women should have the right to access the care they need, including fertility treatment, "without interference from politicians."

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