Senate GOP likely to block Dem push to protect IVF pregnancy treatment at federal level, insist its a state-level issue

 February 28, 2024

Controversy erupted last week over an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that raised more questions than it answered about the in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, technology for pregnancies when the court declared that frozen embryos counted as an "unborn child" for the state's wrongful death of a minor civil liability law.

Senate Democrats, backed by President Joe Biden, are trying to seize the opportunity to push through federal protections for IVF treatments, but Senate Republicans are reportedly poised to block that effort, according to Politico.

The main reason for the expected blockade is not that Republicans don't want to protect IVF -- almost all of them have said otherwise -- but rather that they see it as a state-level issue and not something that the federal government should be involved in at the national level.

Senate GOP likely to object to unanimous consent on federal IVF protections

Politico reported that, potentially as soon as Wednesday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) could try to seek unanimous consent from the entire Senate for legislation she's drawn up that would impose federal regulations nationwide to protect IVF technology, treatments, and pregnancies -- something she previously tried to do in 2022 but failed to achieve.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) objected to that prior effort -- it only takes one senator to halt such a move -- and though she has remained tight-lipped about this renewed attempt on Duckworth's bill, other Senate Republicans have signaled that they are not on board with nationalizing the IVF issue.

"I don’t see any need to regulate it at the federal level," Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), who is also an OB-GYN doctor, said as he referenced the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 ruling on abortion rights. "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."

"The Dobbs decision said that abortion is not part of the Constitution, and they said we’re sending the issue back to the states, and I think that’s where it belongs," echoed Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). "I believe that the people of Alabama -- either themselves or through their legislature -- will get something worked out that they’re comfortable with, but I do support fertility technology."

Alabama court ruled frozen embryos count as an "unborn child"

The Associated Press reported that Alabama's Supreme Court ruled last week that frozen embryos count as an "unborn child" under the state's wrongful death of a minor civil liability statute as well as the state constitution's language added in 2018 about the "rights of the unborn child."

The ruling stemmed from a case in which would-be parents sought the right to sue a fertility clinic where their stored frozen embryos for IVF procedures were accidentally destroyed, and the sudden reality of potential liability for frozen embryos has prompted several clinics in the state to halt their provision of fertility treatments.

The ruling also resulted in immediate outrage from Democrats -- see President Biden's furious statement on the matter -- along with doom-crying from the liberal media about the possible wide-ranging ramifications of what "personhood" for frozen embryos means for IVF and beyond.

It also caused several top Republicans -- including former President Donald Trump -- to call on Alabama's state legislature, as well as legislatures in other states, to take proactive steps to protect IVF pregnancies for would-be parents with fertility issues who need the technological aid to have children.

Alabama legislature moving to protect IVF at the state level

According to CBS News, it appears that Alabama's Republican-led state legislature has heeded those calls and is now scrambling to come up with bills to protect IVF services in the state following the court ruling that caused a chill and unsettled things.

While there are reportedly several different proposals being considered, most seem geared toward a similar outcome -- legislatively declaring that fertilized eggs and frozen embryos don't become recognized under state law as "human life" or an "unborn child" until they have been successfully implanted in a woman's uterus.

There will undoubtedly be some debate over the details -- and different states could see things differently -- but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has expressed her desire to protect "couples hoping and praying to be parents who utilize IVF," and in the meantime, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has vowed to not prosecute any IVF clinics or families under the terms of the recent court ruling.

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Thomas Jefferson
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