Here's How We Know Republicans Are Lying About Their 'Support' For IVF

Nancy Mace

Rep. Nancy Mace

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) has taken the bold step of defending in vitro fertilization by introducing a nonbinding resolution. That way Republicans in the House can pretend that they’re taking steps to protect IVF without actually protecting IVF.

That’s a Republican idea of a win-win: taking credit for something while doing nothing.

It’s also a perfect illustration of where the GOP stands on IVF. Two weeks after the conservative Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are children and several hospitals and clinics halted IVF procedures as a result, Republicans are struggling with a fundamental issue: how to convince the general public that they support this popular procedure while reassuring their extremist base that they won’t do anything to address this issue.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that over 10 million children worldwide have been born through IVF and approximately 500,000 more are born each year. In the United States, roughly 97,000 babies are delivered each year thanks to assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.

Families that use IVF are often desperate and have exhausted all other options before facing a physically strenuous process that costs roughly $20,000 per attempt and has an average success rate of 37 percent. Republicans jumping between these families and what they may view as their last opportunity to have a successful pregnancy and build a family comes off as needlessly (and thoughtlessly) cruel.

A YouGov poll shows a solid 67 percent of Americans believe IVF should be legal. Only eight percent believe that IVF should be illegal.

In the same poll, a 46 percent plurality of Americans believe a law should be passed to legalize abortion nationally. Only seven percent of those responding insisted that abortion should be illegal at any time, in any circumstance, no exceptions.

It’s not hard to understand that these two groups who don’t approve of IVF or abortion are likely to have an almost 100 percent overlap. According to the poll results, those saying that IVF should be illegal were more than twice as likely to consider themselves Republicans and to support Donald Trump.

Many abortion laws are based on the idea that life begins at conception. This is a religious concept that dates back only to the 20th century, as early religious figures had no idea about the stages of reproduction. However, the position was rapidly adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and by some evangelical groups. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and conservative Catholic leaders are still officially (and vehemently) opposed to IVF. So are many evangelical leaders and theologians.

The Republican dilemma is simple: Only a small percentage of Americans oppose IVF, but many of those who do oppose it are among the most devoted, fanatical supporters of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

It might only be a tiny percentage, but it’s their tiny percentage.

Republicans know that losing that portion of their most vocal base would doom any hope of winning a national election. And there is more at stake for Republicans than just votes.

Right-wing figures like Federalist Society co-chair Leonard Leo are deeply enmeshed in what happened with the Alabama decision. Leo is also the tip of a dark-money iceberg involved in promoting extremist positions on all aspects of reproduction. Republicans are terrified of losing that connection to outside groups, especially when their coffers are nearly bare and the incoming party co-chair is promising to spend every penny paying her father-in-law’s legal bills.

Republicans are left utterly dependent on outside groups to run ads, do opposition research, and take care of all the other things that their own campaigns might do if they had any money. So they don’t dare upset this dark conservative apple cart.

That’s why, no matter what they are saying, Republicans moved immediately to block legislation introduced by Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth that would have provided nationwide protection for IVF.

It’s why there are spectacles like this, where Rep. Anna Luna withdrew her name as the co-sponsor of a bill protecting IVF, even as Republicans are claiming that they support IVF.

Republicans in Alabama may have pushed a bill through the state Legislature that protects IVF facilities (though not parents) from potential prosecution, but the initial version of that bill was very deliberately set to sunset this protection within months of the upcoming election. Legislators removed that April 1, 2025, deadline after it became clear this would have prevented anyone from beginning an IVF procedure for three months before the election, which would have only put this issue right back on the front page at a very inconvenient time.

But absolutely nothing is stopping them from moving to limit or block any IVF protections once the election is over.

Moving to protect IVF through legislation would risk cutting Republicans off from their most fanatical supporters and from sources of cash that Trump can’t directly purloin. It would also leave them vulnerable to questions about why the millions of fertilized eggs destroyed in IVF attempts each year (far more than the number of embryos destroyed in abortions) don’t represent an annual holocaust. If Republicans really believe life begins when a unique genetic signature is created, IVF is unsupportable. If they don’t continue to voice that belief, almost all abortion legislation is left hanging from nothing.

Republicans are flailing, making gestures of support for IVF in hopes the issue will disappear until after the election. They want to pretend to be supportive of desperate families while quietly reassuring their base that they will actually continue to support a position held by only a tiny minority.

Duckworth’s move in bringing forward her bill was a good way to call their bluff. There should be more of this … right up to Election Day.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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