Senate Republicans block Democrat-led push to protect IVF access

Proponents say the IVF Act would establish a "statutory right" for people to access IVF services.
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Posted at 9:55 AM, Jun 13, 2024

The Senate voted down a procedural vote Thursday on the IVF Act, a measure intended to "protect and expand access" to in vitro fertilization services nationwide. The act is in response to a February 2024 ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that prompted hospitals in the state to briefly pause IVF services. 

Nearly the entire GOP caucus voted against the bill, with Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining Democrats in favor of it. The bill needed 60 votes to advance.

"Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable, unimaginable even that access to a safe and widely used reproductive service like IVF would be put at risk. But sadly, after frightening decisions, like the one from Alabama, not even IVF is safe in the aftermath of Roe," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

The procedural vote was never expected to pass as Senate Republicans issued a joint statement saying that Democrats are engaging in "scare tactics." 

“Senate Democrats have embraced a Summer of Scare Tactics — a partisan campaign of false fearmongering intended to mislead and confuse the American people. In vitro fertilization is legal and available in every state across our nation. We strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF, which has allowed millions of aspiring parents to start and grow their families," the Republican senators said in a joint statement.

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Proponents of the IVF Act say it would establish a "statutory right" for people to access IVF services, and authorize the Department of Justice to enforce those rights. The act would also "increase affordability of fertility care, including IVF, by requiring employer-sponsored insurance plans and other public insurance plans, cover fertility treatments," proponents say.

“For decades, millions of women have used IVF to start or grow their families and make their dreams come true,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia. “It’s clear that lawmakers and judges across the country won’t stop at banning abortion — we’re witnessing a broad-scale attack on reproductive freedom that includes access to assisted reproductive technology and contraception, too. I’m glad to be standing up to these attacks by introducing the Right to IVF Act and other comprehensive measures to protect reproductive care."

Republican Sens. Katie Britt and Ted Cruz in May introduced more narrowly crafted legislation that would make states that ban IVF procedures ineligible for Medicaid funding. Britt and Cruz said that Democrats have stood in the way of their proposal. 

In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of couples who sued a hospital that had their frozen embryos at the time they were destroyed.

The couples sued the hospital under Alabama's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The court said that the act applies to all children, born and unborn, and without limitation. The state has since enacted legislation protecting IVF rights, essentially rendering the state Supreme Court ruling moot.