Senate Republicans Formulate Counter to Democrats’ IVF Protection Bills


Senate Republicans are deliberating on strategies to counter Democrats when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) brings a vote on a package of bills aimed at protecting access to in vitro fertilization later this week.

The proposed legislation seeks to enshrine the right to IVF into federal law and is expected to come up for a vote on Thursday. It faces potential defeat similar to last week’s contraception bill, with Republicans rallying behind their own measures following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The historic ruling delegated the matter of abortion restrictions to the states; however, Democrats argue that the decision has broader implications for reproductive rights and could be leveraged to pressure Republicans in an election year.

“Protecting IVF should be one of the easiest votes the Senate has taken all year,” Schumer stated in a Tuesday afternoon floor speech. “The vast majority of senators should agree that strengthening treatments that help people start a family is a good thing.”

In response, Senate Republicans will introduce their own legislation on IVF, similar to their approach with the contraception debate.

One such bill, spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Katie Britt (R-AL), is set to be brought up through a unanimous consent request, according to an insider. This move will compel Democrats to reject it.

The GOP’s strategy emerges as Schumer intensifies what Republicans have criticized as “show votes” on contentious issues like immigration and reproductive health.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), an adviser and candidate to succeed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senate GOP leader, denounced “another partisan show vote” from Democrats on “another made-up controversy.”

Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), from left, joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“There are countless bipartisan bills that deserve a vote by the Senate, but [Schumer] is simply disinterested,” Cornyn said.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), another candidate vying to replace McConnell, has increased his advocacy for IVF since entering the race. He has a nonbinding pro-IVF resolution that he might attempt to pass on the floor. Last week, he launched a significant ad campaign pledging to safeguard access.

Meanwhile, the Democrats’ IVF bill, the Right to IVF Act, is led by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). It encompasses four different measures and follows the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe. It also comes in the wake of a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year that declared frozen embryos should be regarded as children. This decision necessitated state lawmakers to implement temporary legal protections for IVF providers.

Besides securing IVF access, the Democratic bill aims to protect providers from legal liability, ensure access for service members and veterans, and mandate more health insurance providers to cover the costly procedure.

The legislation from Britt and Cruz, titled the IVF Protection Act, is more narrowly focused due to religious liberty concerns. It proposes to strip states of Medicaid funding if they prohibit IVF, thereby granting states considerable discretion without preventing them from enacting restrictions on the fertility procedure.

“Just like with nationwide access to contraception, I want to make it clear that Republicans support continued nationwide access to IVF,” Britt noted in a recent floor speech. “I look forward to discussing this more next week, as unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues will continue their ‘Summer of Scare Tactics.’”

Schumer refuted the allegation that Democrats are conducting show votes in his Tuesday speech. “In no way, shape, or form is protecting IVF a show vote — it’s a show-us-who-you-are vote,” he said, referencing a 2022 bill that safeguarded same-sex marriage rights.

Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry is a Capitol Hill Reporter focusing on energy and environment. Previously, Ramsey covered Congress for Newsweek and was a multimedia reporter at a local NPR and PBS affiliate in Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, Ramsey graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism.

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