Tag: alabama
Pregnant woman

Don't Trust Sudden Republican Support For IVF -- It Isn't Sincere

The Alabama Supreme Court set off political tremors last week with its decision that frozen embryos have the status of "extrauterine children" and thus are covered by a state law that permits parents to seek damages for the wrongful death of a "minor child." The implication that in vitro fertilization (IVF) cannot be practiced if embryos have legal standing led some commentators immediately to describe the ruling as a "ban." Alabama's attorney general issued a statement reassuring people that IVF providers and patients would not face prosecution, even as clinics around the state were phoning their patients to cancel procedures. There is, IVF industry representatives told lawmakers and the press, too much risk of legal liability if a clinic accidentally causes the death of an embryo by piercing it with a pipette; or if, in consultation with parents, it discards a genetically damaged embryo; or if a power failure causes freezers to malfunction. The possible lawsuits are limitless.

Democrats seized on the decision as evidence that Republican extremists were gunning for IVF, and Republicans, burned once too often by abortion at the ballot box, rushed to assure voters that they reject the ruling and urged the Alabama legislature to amend the law forthwith. Former President Donald Trump led the way by proclaiming that "We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder!"

Jason Thielman, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, circulated a letter to candidates urging, "When responding to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, it is imperative that our candidates align with the public's overwhelming support for IVF and fertility treatments." Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, a Freedom Caucus member, said, "I totally support the procedure" and offered that he would support federal legislation to protect IVF. Sen. Tommy Tuberville was confused about the nature of the Supreme Court ruling, telling a group at CPAC "I was all for it. ... We need to have more kids," but he seems to have gotten the memo about the GOP's message. Speaker Mike Johnson affirmed his support, saying IVF "has been a blessing for many moms and dads who have struggled with fertility."

The problem with the GOP's newfound enthusiasm for IVF is that it contradicts other positions the party has taken to please pro-life voters. In the last Congress, more than 160 House Republicans, including Johnson, cosponsored H.R. 1011, the "Life at Conception Act," which extends 14th Amendment protections to include "preborn human person(s)."

Republicans have also marched in lockstep to oppose the Right to Contraception Act introduced by Democrats because it would have included methods, such as IUDs and the morning-after pill, that some consider abortifacients. It's hard to square support for IVF, which, as practiced in the United States, nearly always entails the loss of fertilized eggs, with opposition to Plan B because it may result in the loss of a fertilized egg.

Maybe the lesson here is that doctrinaire approaches to these matters are not right. Life is full of trade-offs. Johnson is right that IVF has been a blessing for millions, and that includes many people who think of themselves as pro-life. For every 100 Americans born today, between one and two will have been conceived through IVF. By 2015, more than 1 million Americans were born as a result of IVF or similar technologies. For people diagnosed with cancer, IVF can preserve their fertility until after they have completed chemotherapy. For couples who are carriers of genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs and more than 400 other disorders, IVF can allow embryos to be tested before transfer to ensure that the disease is not present. Is that a pro-life gift to the world? Millions of Americans think it is — even though the procedure involves the loss of embryonic human life. It isn't a failing to recognize that these matters are murky and sometimes we do act on moral instinct more than on bright lines.

It is possible to approach the process ethically and even reverently. Some couples make decisions in advance about how to handle the question of "excess" embryos that have not been transferred after IVF treatment (only a fraction of transfers result in implantation and pregnancy). Some place frozen embryos for adoption. Others have larger families than they might have originally intended because they regard the frozen embryos as their children.

It's difficult for a political party to escape its brand. Just as Democrats will have difficulty convincing voters they aren't soft on illegal immigration, Republicans won't easily escape the association with hard-line abortion positions, including opposition to certain kinds of contraception. The personhood bills that four states have enacted and a dozen others are considering draw a harsh line on matters like IVF, which does entail making life-and-death decisions about frozen embryos. The voters may force Republicans to reconsider their blanket support for personhood bills. Perhaps pro-natalism is the pro-life position the GOP needs.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Alabama's Law Protecting IVF Embryos Is Wrong -- But Consistent

Alabama's Law Protecting IVF Embryos Is Wrong -- But Consistent

I'm not here to join the mockery of Alabama for declaring that embryos are children — and, therefore, in vitro fertilization clinics must protect them forever. On the contrary, I admire its honesty. Many states have effectively banned abortions, arguing that destroying an embryo amounts to baby killing. Yet they look the other way when fertility clinics discard hundreds of thousands of unused embryos, which they routinely do.

Let's be clear. I believe in the right to an abortion within a reasonable time limit and whenever the mother's life is in danger. Mothers-to-be often refer to the cluster of cells that constitute the embryo as a "baby," which is understandable. Science does not.

Nevertheless, an Alabama court ruled that frozen embryos resulting from IVF treatments are considered children under the law. Other states have hypocritically gone halfway in that direction. Some of their fetal personhood laws let women sue for back child support since conception.

Give Alabama credit for walking the walk.

Biologically speaking, there is virtually no difference between an embryo created through IVF and one conceived naturally. And that's what the Alabama court is saying.

Fearing the political repercussions, however, Republican lawmakers in Alabama are trying to weasel out of the consequences. They are working on proposals to redefine a frozen fertilized egg as "potential life," as opposed to the fully human one inside the uterus.

Baloney. Both kinds of fertilized eggs are potential life.

Some pro-life advocates hold that while most of the embryos created in IVF clinics will never be used, the clinics enable couples to create life that wouldn't have happened without them. That's a valid argument.

But for the true opponents of abortion, that argument is one of political convenience. Former President George W. Bush made a show of pushing for adoptions of frozen embryos by women who would have them implanted. He called the embryos "snowflakes."

But fertility centers continued to discard unused embryos. Bush never threatened to close them down or force the IVF clinics — and the egg and sperm donors — to preserve them in perpetuity.

Another dodge by alleged abortion foes is the exception for rape and incest. Many politicians throw that in their abortion bans because it sounds only fair to victimized women. But if a fertilized egg represents innocent life, then the circumstances of the conception should not matter.

The pro-choice movement often aids that phony argument by condemning abortion bans with the words, "They don't even allow an exception for rape and incest." Darn right there should be no exceptions.

Democrats like Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth have foolishly helped take states that ban abortion off the hook by offering legislation that would protect IVF services nationwide. No, their politicians should live with the fallout of declaring that an embryo is a baby.

The pro-choice stance should be that a woman has a right to end an unwanted pregnancy early on and for whatever the reason: rape, an unwise night of unprotected sex, failed birth control — no questions asked. Certainly no woman should have to present police evidence that she had been brutally violated.

In the wake of the Alabama ruling, there's been an explosion of memes about listing fertilized eggs as children on tax returns and using a box of chicken eggs to get access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes. They can be pretty funny.

But those who support a constitutional right to abortion should also praise Alabama for stripping away the veils that provide phony exceptions to the protection of embryos.

Alabama has bravely followed through on its position that a fertilized egg is a child. The position may be biologically false and politically dangerous, but give the state credit for honesty.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Senate Republicans Reject IVF Protection They Promised To Support

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.

Donald Trump

Trump Contradictions Exposed In IVF Debate As Biden Trolls Republicans

Republicans are scrambling for a response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling upending access to in vitro fertilization treatments in the state, and one very important person has gone silent: Donald Trump.

On Thursday, NBC News' Jonathan Allen reported that a Trump campaign spokesperson failed to reply to an inquiry about when Trump might weigh in. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that Trump finally addressed the matter, saying that he would “strongly support the availability of IVF.” But by then, the Biden campaign and Democrats had pounced.

The right-wing ruling in a red state has put Republicans in a bind, forcing them to choose between their evangelical voters and the well-heeled donors who are increasingly turned off by the Republican Party's extremism. In Pew Research Center polling from last year, nearly 6 in 10 upper-income Americans said they or someone they know have used fertility treatments, such as IVF.

Even Trump's campaign surrogates dodged when asked whether embryos are children. “Well, I haven’t studied the issue,” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said after casting his vote in the state's Republican primary.

In Trump's absence, however, the Biden campaign stepped in to fill the void. "Make no mistake: this is because Donald Trump overturned Roe v. Wade," President Biden tweeted Thursday, over a graphic of an Associated Press headline about an Alabama hospital pausing IVF treatments. The graphic included a picture of Trump alongside a quote of him taking credit for destroying the country's abortion rights: "I'm the one that got rid of Roe v. Wade."

But that wasn't Biden's only tweet about IVF on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Biden also connected the end of Roe to the IVF ruling, writing, "The Vice President and I won’t stop until we restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law for all women in every state."

The Biden-Harris campaign's rapid-response account tweeted out several damning tweets related to Trump's attack on reproductive freedom—including on IVF treatments—while he was president. One tweet included Trump's tortured 2019 announcement of nominating anti-IVF, anti-surrogacy judge Sarah Pitlyk to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.

"She was confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench and Trump even considered her for the Supreme Court," stated the Biden-Harris HQ account.

Another Trump appointee, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, refused to rule out criminalizing IVF treatments. During her 2020 confirmation, she said this:

In case there was any confusion about Trump's role in inserting the federal government into America's bedrooms, the Biden campaign wants to clear it up.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.