Tag: ivf
No Place To Hide: The Abject Panic Of The 'Pro-Lifers'

No Place To Hide: The Abject Panic Of The 'Pro-Lifers'

Donald Trump just hates the issue of abortion. It’s messy. It’s nasty. It deals with women’s stuff down there, the part he has always just wanted to grab and then brag about. The big problem with abortion for Trump has been that that he has never wanted to take a position on it. When he said he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade, all he wanted to do was take the votes of the MAGA masses and move on.

The stickiness of abortion as an issue has never been as clear as it is right now with the Alabama Supreme Court essentially declaring that life begins at conception and applying that principle to IVF, and the Arizona Supreme Court concluding that they’re happy breathing life into an anti-abortion law that was written before Arizona was even a state.

The Arizona law was like those some states, mainly in the South, have on the books that make adultery illegal or forbid women or Black people from signing contracts or holding a bank account. The Republicans are like, yeah, sure, we know those ancient statutes are still around, but we’d rather just ignore them and move on, because we’re only trying to turn the clock back to the 1950’s, not the 1860’s.

But these two Supreme Courts blew the lid off the pro-life movement’s decades-long wish to seem reasonable and exposed the anti-abortion movement for what it has always been. It’s why they came up with the name “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion.” They were trying to make it seem like they didn’t just want to ban women from getting an abortion; what really concerned them were the babies.

But even that was a lie. Babies, once they are born, never interested them. They want women either on the birthing table or at the sink scrubbing those pots and pans. In Texas, the desire to control women was so strong that the legislature wrote a law turning women’s neighbors into spies and giving them the power to sue women who had abortions as well as any person who helped or enabled women to abort a pregnancy after six weeks.

Watching the Republican Party, and especially its Maximum Leader, Donald Trump, try to tap dance around these two state Supreme Courts is providing us with some welcome opportunities for schadenfreude. You almost have to feel sorry for the poor fools serving on the Supreme Court of Alabama, with nine Republican justices either elected or appointed by Republican Governor Kay Ivey. They have got to be sitting there today thinking, wait a minute! What just happened? I just did what my party expected me to do, in fact, what they put me on the court to do! And now they’re getting roasted for it.

The analogy that pundits have seized to describe the current moment for Republicans is the proverbial dog who caught the proverbial car. What does the dog do now? Well, it turns out that what the dog does is look wildly around for a way to dislodge the car from its jaws, the car being the Dobbs decision and its rapid fall-out around the nation, all those anti-abortion laws that sprang to life in state after state, some of them truly draconian. The stories of women’s lives being endangered by the new anti-abortion laws have proliferated, including the one about the 10 year old girl in Ohio who was raped and had to travel out of state for an abortion because Ohio didn’t have an exception for rape or incest, even for a little girl.

All those Republican legislators and governors are sitting there today patting themselves on the back congratulating each other because they did what they were elected to do. And now comes the scrambling, not to fix the ugly laws they passed, but to repair the damage they know they’re going to suffer at the ballot box.

Donald Trump, bless his black heart, is leading the way. Look at this nonsense he posted on Truth Social today:

Trump is so panicked, so afraid of actually taking a position that would have any real meaning and effect, he is reprising his wishful thinking that the whole thing has been solved by the return of control of laws on abortion to the states. Well, here’s a state, asshole, and it’s a battleground state, Arizona, and what’s he calling for as a “remedy?” Exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother which aren’t in the 1864 nightmare of a law the Arizona Supreme Court just put back on the books. Boy, that’ll get it done, huh?

This kind of reshuffling of the deck of cards isn’t going to work, especially with an amendment enshrining the right to abortion in the Arizona constitution expected to be on the November ballot…along with the name of Donald Trump, the dog trying to get that damn car out of his mouth who is running for president.

If you want to see some professional-level reshuffling, allow me to recommend the David French op-ed published in the New York Times on Thursday. Here we have one of the preeminent pro-life intellectuals lamenting the fact that his movement doesn’t have a political party to call its own anymore, because Alabama Republicans quickly did an about-face on IVF after the Supreme Court shut it down in that state. Of course, legalizing IVF necessitates the destruction of fertilized embryos, which are, according to French, unborn children, and “the unborn child must not be intentionally killed.”

French, of course, is supposed to be one of the New York Times' “reasonable” conservatives, in this case, the “reasonable” pro-life one, who assures us elsewhere in his thousand-plus-word lament that he has been pro-life for “my entire adult life,” and defends his movement against charges that what it’s doing is seeking to control women’s lives, French assures us he has “never seen a desire for subjugation and control” in the pro-life movement.

Well, thank goodness for that. We all feel so much better now.

What French and the rest of them are doing is backing and filling now that the nation’s Supreme Court and the supreme courts of two states have dug the gigantic abyss they’re staring into. They’re trying to say, gee, we didn’t mean for this whole thing to go that far! We thought we’d throw these exceptions into the anti-abortion laws and that would take care of it for us! We didn’t know there would be this stuff like women going into sepsis! What the hell is sepsis, anyway?

This is what happens when men write laws about women’s bodies they don’t understand any better than the Chief Pussy-Grabber does. The thing that for decades they had treated like a simple issue to garner votes has turned out to be more complicated than they thought. If you want every embryo to be a little person, there are consequences, and as they discovered in Alabama, consequences demand compromises. As David French now whines, compromises are not pure and simple, they involve moral choices you once thought were easy and clean and now discover are messy and icky.

The dogs who caught the car are not happy. Boo fucking hoo.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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Rep. Michelle Steel

Democrats Focus IVF Fire On Vulnerable GOP House Incumbents

Republicans continue to flounder when it comes to protecting access to IVF, and Democrats are intent on making it even worse for them. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign organization designed to elect House Democrats, released a scathing memo Monday, blasting “so-called moderate House Republicans” who seek “political cover by backing non-binding House resolutions that do nothing to actually protect access to this vital health care.”

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is poised to make House Republicans’ blatant disrespect for women and families a defining campaign issue,” the memo continues. They’re taking particular aim at members of the Biden 17—the 17 House Republicans who occupy districts that Joe Biden won in 2020—who have rushed out competing House resolutions to say how much they love IVF, but have refused to actually protect the treatment. They are empty promises, and Democrats won’t let them get away with it.

Democratic contender Derek Tran is using the DCCC’s message and running hard at GOP Rep. Michelle Steel in California’s 45th District, which Biden won by 6 percentage points in 2020. Steel is cosponsoring one of the nonbinding resolutions expressing support for IVF, but she is still a cosponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which declares that fertilized eggs have all the protections of actual human beings.

Steel is a “fraud,” Tran told NBC News. “She continues to spill out lies,” Tran said. “Just three weeks ago, she signed on to the Life at Conception bill. This is the second time she’s done that. And now she’s saying that she’s pro-IVF when the Life at Conception bill is anything but. So she still is just spilling out lies in order to get voters.”

Those vulnerable House Republicans sure aren’t going to get any guidance from their leadership. Here’s mushy Speaker Mike Johnson trying to have it all ways: “Look, I believe in the sanctity of every human life. Always have,” he told NBC. “And because of that I support IVF and its availability.” Oh, and he has “many close friends” who have used IVF.

“It needs to be readily available. It needs to be something that every American supports. And it needs to be handled in an ethical manner,” he said, complaining that there is “a lot of misunderstanding” about where Republicans stand on it. That’s no misunderstanding at all—that’s Republicans refusing to say whether they believe IVF needs to be statutorily protected.

This is a potent issue for Democrats, and they know it—from the Biden-Harris reelection team down to the DCCC. In a new CBS News/YouGov poll, a whopping 86 percent of Americans said IVF should be legal. The message from Democrats is simple: “House Republicans are flagrant hypocrites who have spent their entire tenure in the majority attacking reproductive rights at every turn,” Courtney Rice, a spokesperson for the DCCC, told HuffPost. “Now, they are hiding behind toothless resolutions and empty public statements because they know their relentless attacks on reproductive freedoms will cost them at the ballot box.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Nancy Mace

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

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.

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.