Cruz and Britt’s IVF Bill Sparks Controversy Among Republicans


Ted Cruz and Katie Britt have created a problematic situation for their fellow Republicans, encouraging their colleagues to join in. The two senators (Cruz from Texas and Britt from Alabama) have introduced the “IVF Protection Act,” which would penalize any state attempting to ban, or possibly even regulate, IVF. This move received immediate criticism from conservatives arguing that it is a terrible policy idea.

It is also a political misstep. Every moment Republican leaders spend discussing IVF is time they aren’t addressing pressing issues like inflation and immigration, which are of greater concern to voters. Instead of focusing on these key issues, Cruz and Britt have allowed the topic of IVF, a distraction set by Democrats and the media, to dominate. Democrats must be pleased, as there is no real threat of any state banning IVF.

Nevertheless, Republicans such as Cruz and Britt have let the media push them into a needless panic, fearing they will lose moderate suburban women if they don’t support IVF. This bill appears to be a political move to neutralize potential attacks from Democrats, a strategy as misguided as Hillary Clinton ignoring Wisconsin in her campaign.

The Democrats’ focus on IVF and their criticisms of Justice Alito for flying an “Appeal to Heaven” flag should be seen as distractions from President Biden’s failures. Unfortunately, some Republicans are falling for these diversions.

Instead, Republicans should let Democrats waste their efforts on IVF. If pressed on IVF, Republican candidates should remain calm and respond with: “No state is trying to ban IVF. Democrats are stirring up a false culture war because they can’t defend Joe Biden’s disastrous presidency.” Then, they should list all the valid criticisms of Biden’s tenure. It’s straightforward.

Political campaigns are won by making voters prefer you over your opponent, not by convincing them you agree on every issue. Focusing on a less relevant topic like IVF, where voters might trust Democrats more, is a political blunder. Republicans can’t outdo Democrats in supporting IVF.

Cruz and Britt may think their bill is smart politics, but it’s not. Successful triangulation quickly neutralizes a weakness and shifts focus to strengths. The Cruz-Britt bill fails at this.

Instead, it prolongs Republican infighting over IVF until the bill resolves. Although opposition to IVF is a minority stance, it still matters to some principled pro-life Republicans. Additionally, legal conservatives and small-government proponents oppose the bill due to its federal overreach.

Triangulation aims to win centrist voters by distancing from party fringes, particularly on issues that matter to the center. IVF, amidst rising inflation, uncontrolled immigration, and global conflicts, is not one of those issues.

Running against Joe Biden’s presidency should be an easy campaign, even with Donald Trump’s influence. Cruz, Britt, and others focusing on IVF show their disconnection from the pressing issues Americans face.

This approach indicates a lack of commitment to conservatism. Effectively countering Democrat and media attacks requires understanding the issues. For example, the Alabama court case that sparked this controversy did not ban IVF; it allowed parents to hold a facility accountable for destroying their embryos negligently.

This is a defensible position but requires politicians who understand the issues and can explain them clearly. Instead, many Republicans panicked in response to Democrat and media uproar, and Cruz and Britt have continued this panic approach. However, panic is a poor strategy for campaigning or governing.

Nathanael Blake
Nathanael Blake
Nathanael Blake is a senior contributor and a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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