Duckworth and Booker

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) speaks alongside Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) during a news conference on access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2024.

(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Senate GOP Blocks IVF Bill, Showing How Extreme 'Whole Party Is'

"This is the third time they've blocked legislation to protect IVF nationwide," said the sponsor, Sen. Tammy Duckworth. "This is who Republicans are."

After blocking a vote on the Right to Contraception Act last week, U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday similarly prevented the chamber from weighing in on "a bill to protect and expand nationwide access to fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization."

Only Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined with Democrats for the 48-47 procedural vote on Sen. Tammy Duckworth's (D-Ill.) Right to IVF Act, which needed three-fifths majority support to hold a final vote in the chamber.

"IVF access has helped countless American families to form and grow. This bill would have protected their access to this healthcare and all the hope it represents amidst active MAGA threats to ban IVF," Indivisible said on social media Thursday. "Following this vote on the Right to IVF Act, all those people now know exactly where their senators stand."

"This is the kind of thing Democrats need to do more of. Go on offense. Force Republicans on the record. Don't let them say one thing and do another," the group asserted just months away from the November general election. "Republicans have waffled on this for months. When finally forced to take action, the GOP was too chicken."

Indivisible emphasized that "this legislation contains basic, popular things that actually enjoy wide support among Democratic and Republican voters alike. It would have been safe and frankly smart for most of the GOP to vote for it. But this shows how loyal to anti-choice extremists the whole party is."

"This amounts to a total refusal to protect our access to reproductive healthcare. It is truly indefensible."

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—who changed his vote to "no" so he can bring the bill up again—said on the chamber's floor Thursday that "it is a contradiction to claim you are pro-family but then turn around and block protections for IVF."

"In a perfect world a bill like this would not be necessary," Schumer argued, "but after the fiasco of the Alabama Supreme Court decision, and the generally MAGA views of some on the [U.S.] Supreme Court, Americans are genuinely worried that IVF is the next target of anti-choice extremists."

The Alabama Supreme Court in February delivered what critics called a "radically theocratic" decision, recognizing frozen embryos as children. IVF clinics swiftly stopped operating in the state and fears about the future of fertility treatments mounted nationwide.

Alabama state legislators swiftly worked to pass new IVF protections, but the Mobile Infirmary Health and the Center for Reproductive Medicine said in March that "the law falls short of addressing the fertilized eggs currently stored across the state and leaves challenges for physicians and fertility clinics trying to help deserving families have children of their own."

Since then, many GOP political figures across the country have claimed to support such in vitro fertilization—including the 49 Senate Republicans who signed a Wednesday statement led by Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.), who also pushed a competing IVF bill. However, Democratic leaders and reproductive rights advocates warn that like abortion and birth control, fertility care remains at risk of being restricted by right-wingers unless Congress passes legislation to protect it.

"Republicans talk a big game. But they will vote to block protections for IVF, just like they did for contraception," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said before the vote. "Talk is cheap. Only Democrats are fighting to protect abortion, contraception, and IVF."

Duckworth—who led the bill alongside Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.)—declared: "This is the third time they've blocked legislation to protect IVF nationwide. This is who Republicans are."

Campaigners were similarly critical on Thursday. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, said in a statement that "it is shameful, and it is harmful that U.S. Senate Republicans today refused to take the simple, necessary step of passing a wildly popular bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization."

"Together with Republicans' refusal to enshrine our right to contraception into federal law and to codify Roe v. Wade, this amounts to a total refusal to protect our access to reproductive healthcare. It is truly indefensible," Rowe-Finkbeiner continued. "The need for a federal law is indisputable in the wake of the appalling actions by Alabama legislators who have still not clarified that embryos are not people with the same rights as children, and legislative proposals that threaten IVF access in other states."

After listing the Right to IVF Act's provisions and noting the thousands of babies born thanks to such care, she concluded that "no family should ever have to fear that access to IVF will be denied or that they will be prosecuted for using it. But Republicans in the U.S. Senate today refused to offer that simple protection. Moms will not forget this vote."

In addition to deciding which party will control each chamber of Congress, U.S. voters in November are set to choose between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump, who has bragged about appointing half of the U.S. Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

"I have long said that overturning Roe v. Wade was just the beginning of a full-on attack on fundamental freedoms, and this is the latest indication that extremists plan to go much further," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a campaign statement about the Senate vote on Thursday.

"Unlike Donald Trump, President Biden and I believe a politician should never come between a woman and her doctor—whether that be for abortion care, contraception, or treatment like IVF," she added. "In November, Americans have a chance to stand up for reproductive freedom of all forms by rejecting Donald Trump and his extremist allies."

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