When Senate Republicans Claim To Support IVF, They're Lying

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Democrats are expected to call for a vote Thursday on legislation that would protect access to in-vitro fertilization procedures. All 49 Republican senators have signed onto a letter supposedly signaling their support for IVF, but what the letter shows is that—just as they did on contraception—Republicans will vote to block this bill.

Because no matter what Republicans say, their intent is obvious in their actions. They mean to leave both contraception and IVF unprotected, subject to limitation by state laws now and a federal law later.

The vote on this bill comes a day after the conservative Southern Baptist Convention voted to oppose IVF at its annual meeting in Indianapolis. Almost five decades after a conservative takeover, the SBC has become the bellwether of right-wing politics. And the vote on Wednesday makes it clear: Republicans can’t be anti-abortion and pro-IVF because their opposition to abortion is rooted in an ideology that simply won’t allow it.

Republicans briefly showed a flurry of support for IVF following an Alabama court ruling that shut down the procedure on a state level in February. Recognizing the overwhelming popularity of the procedure, Republicans—including Donald Trump—hurried to express their support.

Sen. Ted Cruz spoke out in the Senate Judiciary Committee to say that “IVF is fully protected in law, it should be fully protected in law, and it will remain 100% fully protected in law.”

However, the Alabama case illustrated just how vulnerable IVF was to the whims of state legislature and local judges. And now that Cruz has a chance to make sure that IVF actually is fully protected by law, he’s expected to vote against it. Republicans already voted down a bill supporting nationwide access to IVF in February, and now they’re scrambling for a way to appease their rampantly anti-abortion base while protecting the very popular procedure. They are not going to find it.

Like every other Republican, Cruz will continue to pretend that since IVF is already legal, there’s no reason to vote to protect it, which purposely leaves IVF’s legality open to challenge.

What Republicans aren’t saying is that they have a very good reason to vote against the Democratic bill. The over 10,000 delegates at the SBC not only voted to oppose IVF, they also called on the 13 million members of their affiliated churches “to advocate for the government to restrain actions inconsistent with the dignity and value of every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings.”

If “frozen embryonic human beings” sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. But the moral and legal basis of Republican opposition to abortion lies on the equally ridiculous idea that “life begins at conception.” That idea is irreconcilable with protecting IVF because it inevitably produces excess embryos that, at best, will stay eternally trapped in a deep freeze.

Republicans might have hoped that, having been handed their long-time dream of overturning Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion forces would remain ever satisfied (and ever willing to donate and work for Republican candidates). But that’s not how it’s working out.

After destroying Roe, their base still wants more. They want a national ban. They want to end birth control. And they want to end IVF.

The bill introduced by Democrats would not just protect IVF, but it would also help to make it more available and affordable.

Expect Republicans to block the bill on Thursday, while continuing to give limp statements of support to IVF.

But that support won’t last. "Life begins at conception" isn't just a slogan; it's something with far-ranging consequences that Republicans mean to enforce.

If Republicans get a chance to draft their national abortion ban, don’t expect it to be too different from the language used by the SBC this week in Indianapolis, frozen embryonic Americans and all.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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