Senate Republicans Block Bill to Establish Right to Use IVF

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
June 13, 2024Congress
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Establish Right to Use IVF
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) speaks during a press conference about the IVF Act in Washington on June 12, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—A bill to establish a right to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments fell short of the 60 votes required for it to advance in the Senate on June 13.

Republicans largely rejected the measure—dubbed the Right to IVF Act—resulting in a failed 48–47 vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote to “no” at the last minute to reserve the ability to bring the bill up again.

In addition to cementing a statutory right to fertility treatments, the bill would have required private and federal health insurance plans to cover IVF treatments while also expanding access to the treatments for military members and veterans.

The measure was not expected to pass.

“This is not a ‘show vote.’ It’s a ‘show us who you are’ vote,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “Today, unfortunately, it seems our Republican colleagues are going to show us just who they are—people who will not protect a woman’s right to IVF.”

His comments were made after all Senate Republicans affirmed their support for IVF and accused Democrats of “fearmongering.”

“In vitro fertilization is legal and available in every state across our nation. We strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF, which has allowed millions of aspiring parents to start and grow their families,” the 49 Republican senators wrote in a June 12 statement.

The move to enshrine access to IVF follows a February ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that human embryos created through the process are legally children under state law. Some IVF providers in the state responded by suspending their services until lawmakers passed a law shielding them from liability.

The ruling sparked fears nationally that a similar situation could occur in other states, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning the federal right to abortion and sending the issue back to states. Recent Gallup polling shows that the vast majority of Americans (82 percent), including 72 percent of Republicans, find its use for conception to be morally acceptable.

Sens. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) put forward their own legislation to protect access to IVF nationwide. That bill would have withheld Medicaid funding from states that ban the procedure. However, when Mr. Cruz called for unanimous consent to pass the measure on June 12, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) blocked the move.

Mr. Cruz said the Democrats’ legislation, of which Ms. Murray was a sponsor, did not include protections for the First Amendment rights of those who object to IVF on religious grounds.

“If your faith teaches you not to use IVF, as a doctor, you should have the right to say: ‘I am not going to participate in that,’ Mr. Cruz said.”

Republicans have recently also rejected the Right to Contraception Act.

Hours before the Senate vote, House Democrats held a press conference in support of their companion bill, which sponsor Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said had garnered the support of four Republicans.

“Right now we have four Republicans who have signed on, and yet many, many claim to support IVF,” Ms. Wild said. “So, words of support are nice to hear, but Americans need action, not empty promises. And so I’m asking my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put their money where their mouth is.”

Asked if Democrats would try to force a vote on the bill via a discharge petition, the congresswoman said she was discussing the matter with Republican members. She noted that even with the four who already support the bill, she would still need one more Republican to sign on to reach the 218-member threshold for that move to work.

“We’re working on it,” she said.

From The Epoch Times