Senate Republicans Reject IVF Protection They Promised To Support

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois asked Wednesday for unanimous consent to pass her bill granting federal protections to IVF and other advanced fertility treatments, to prevent more states from doing what the Alabama Supreme Court did to shut the practice down.

All Republicans had to do was to not object to that. They wouldn’t have even had to take a roll call vote on it. But as soon as Duckworth asked her Senate colleagues across the aisle to put their money where their mouth is, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippiobjected, proving that all of the recent insistence from Republicans about wanting to protect IVF is nothing more than lip service.

It’s not that they don’t want to protect these key reproductive rights, most Republicans argued this week. It’s just not their job to do it. No, they say, the states will take care of all that, because the Supreme Court said so.

For example, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said: “I don’t see any need to regulate it at the federal level … I think the Dobbs decision puts this issue back at the state level, and I would encourage your state legislations to protect in-vitro fertilization.”

Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana joined in on the buck-passing. “The Dobbs decision said that abortion is not part of the Constitution,” he said, “and they said we’re sending the issue back to the states, and I think that’s where it belongs.”

“Alabama will pass a law to protect IVF,” said Alabama’s Sen. Katie Britt.

Right. Here’s what Alabama is doing to “protect” IVF: proposing legislation that does not challenge the state supreme court ruling that frozen embryos are children, leaves IVF clinics open to lawsuits if they destroy those embryos (a regular part of the process), and automatically expires early next year—after the election. So much for that idea.

Other Republicans are trying to flip the script, saying that this is just about Democrats playing political games on the issue. “It’s idiotic for us to take the bait,” said Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio. Apparently taking the “bait” is making sure IVF is protected.

This all shows once again the trap Republicans created for themselves, claiming that life begins at conception and abortion is a crime but IVF—a process in which many fertilized eggs are going to be destroyed—is different somehow, but still not worth protecting from government restrictions. And they know very well that they’ve dug themselves a hole.

Iowa’s Sen. Joni Ernst says she supports access to IVF, but “I don’t want to say they’re not children.” And Wyoming’s Sen. Cynthia Loomis insists “we desperately want to protect in vitro fertilization,” but, you know, there’s stuff that has to be figured out first.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida attempted to be thoughtful about the mess they’re in.

“How do our laws recognize the dignity of human life but also understand that the procedure that it enables is a life-creating procedure?” he said. “No one has IVF to destroy life, they have IVF to create life,” he said. “Unfortunately, you have to create multiple embryos, and some of those are not used, then you’re now in a quandary.”

So to recap: Republicans love IVF and want to protect it, but letting a bill pass that would do just that? Nope. Not their job.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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