Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks in a red suit by a sign reading "Protect IVF Access for All."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) speaks during a February 27, 2024 press conference on protecting access to IVF, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Senate GOP Blocks Effort to Federally Protect IVF Access

"Remember this the next time they claim to care about freedom and family," said one Democratic lawmaker.

Democratic U.S. lawmakers and reproductive rights defenders on Wednesday blasted congressional Republicans and former U.S. President Donald Trump after a GOP senator blocked a bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization a week after Alabama's right-wing Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) objected to a request to pass by unanimous consent a bill introduced by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to federally protect IVF access, claiming that the bill is "a vast overreach that is full of poison pills that go way too far."

Calling the bill "a vast overreach that is full of poison pills that go way too far," Hyde-Smith claimed it would legalize human cloning, gene-edited "designer babies," and commercial surrogacy, "including for young girls without parental involvement."

Duckworth accused her colleague of misreading the legislation, asserting that "it simply says you have a statutory right should you choose to pursue assisted reproductive technology."

Democratic lawmakers reacted angrily to Hyde-Smith's move—and to Republican attacks on reproductive freedom.

"Once again, Republicans have shown their true colors," said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). "Republicans are claiming to support IVF while voting down the very bill that would do that. Actions speak louder than words."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on social media: "I wish I could say I'm surprised. Senate Republicans just blocked our attempt to pass Sen. Duckworth's bill to protect nationwide access to IVF. Republicans will stop at nothing to deny women in America their fundamental rights and freedoms."

In the House, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) lamented Republicans' attack on legislation that would "protect Americans' right to start a family through IVF."

"Remember this the next time they claim to care about freedom and family," Clark added.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Duckworth said: "Let's be clear about what led to this moment. The overturning of Roe is what made last week's ruling even possible."

"Donald Trump is the one who bragged about taking down Roe v. Wade," she added. "Donald Trump acts as if that's something to be proud of."

Trump—the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner despite facing 91 federal and state criminal charges—appointed three right-wing anti-abortion justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. All three were part of the 6-3 majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which voided half a century of federal abortion rights.

Following last week's Alabama ruling—which prompted multiple IVF clinics to suspend operations in the state—Trump and other Republicans scrambled to distance themselves from the deeply unpopular decision.

However, Duckworth said Wednesday that "while it may now be convenient" for Trump "to claim that he had nothing to do with what happened in Alabama, we know the truth: IVF is at risk because of him. He is to blame."

"Him and every other GOP official who shamelessly kisses his ring, proving with every word that they they that they care more about protecting his poll numbers than protecting Americans' freedoms," she added.

At the Center for American Progress, senior vice president for inclusive growth Emily Gee said that "Republicans have been on a relentless crusade to strip women of their fundamental freedom to control their own reproductive destinies and medical decisions—seeking to ban abortion, restrict contraception, and limit fertility options for Americans trying to grow their families."

"They have been emboldened and enabled by Donald Trump and his hand-picked U.S. Supreme Court justices, who have misinterpreted the Constitution to rip away Americans' rights and enforce their extreme MAGA ideology on all of us," she continued.

"Senate Republicans' decision to block legislation affirming Americans' ability to obtain IVF treatment is a moral abomination as well as an insult to families devastated by the Alabama Supreme Court's recent ruling," Gee added. "Today, they have made painstakingly clear that there's no limit to their agenda to intrude upon women's most personal decisions. That is an intrusion that Americans will continue to reject."

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