IVF Is Headed to the Senate Floor. Guess What Republicans Are Planning.

Politics

Senate Republicans Will Do Anything to Protect IVF. Anything. Except Allow the Bill Protecting IVF to Pass.

They don’t even have to vote on this bill. But that won’t stop them from derailing it.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth is pushing a bill that would guarantee a federal right to in vitro fertilization treatments in every state.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Here’s some tremendous news for the Senate Republicans who say they’ll do anything to protect access to in vitro fertilization treatments: They can do just that—on Wednesday! In fact, they won’t even have to “do” anything at all. They just need to not object when Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth tries to pass her bill by unanimous consent. Political problem solved, no effort involved—this is good work if you can get it.

… So who’s going to object?

Duckworth, along with Washington Sen. Patty Murray, recently reintroduced a bill that would create a federal right to IVF and other advanced fertility treatments as currently practiced, superseding state law. She had originally introduced it in 2022, following the Dobbs decision, and reintroduced it this January, prior to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that prompted providers in that state to halt IVF treatments. She announced on Tuesday that she would ask unanimous consent to pass it the following day.

“If you truly care about the sanctity of families, and you’re genuinely, actually, honestly interested in protecting IVF, then you need to show it by not blocking this bill on the floor,” said Duckworth, who has had children through IVF, at a press conference Tuesday.

When Duckworth attempted to pass her bill via unanimous consent in 2022, it was Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith who objected on the floor. Hyde-Smith gave no reason at the time. She’s not much of a conversationalist.

It’s unlikely that Senate Republicans will go along with Duckworth’s bill this time either, although we do not yet know which senator will draw the short straw of having to make the objection on the floor.

Because while few, if any, Republicans are thrilled with the current situation in Alabama, many argued on Tuesday that this hadn’t yet reached the level of a congressional response. Alabama legislators are, after all, supposedly working on a fix that would allow IVF to proceed; other states where IVF treatments are at risk could follow suit.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said that the issue would be “taken care of in Alabama” and that he was “not at all” worried about IVF access in other states. South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds wanted “to see what the individual states come up with for different approaches to it before we try to do something.” Alabama Sen. Katie Britt said, simply, “Alabama will pass a law to protect IVF.”

Still others remained tongue-tied about the “quandary” at hand, as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio put it. “How do our laws recognize the dignity of human life but also understand that the procedure that it enables is a life-creating procedure?” Rubio told reporters, according to HuffPost. “No one has IVF to destroy life, they have IVF to create life. Unfortunately, you have to create multiple embryos, and some of those are not used, then you’re now in a quandary.” Hmm, very interesting, much quandary. What about just letting this bill pass so things could go back to the way they were a couple of weeks ago?

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, meanwhile, said to HuffPost, when asked whether she considered frozen embryos to be children: “I don’t want to say they’re not children.”

To recap: Republicans definitely want to protect IVF. Good God, they are dying to protect IVF. But getting out of the way to allow a bill to be passed that would protect IVF? Let’s pump the brakes a little.

So, who have you bet on objecting to the unanimous consent request on Wednesday? Alabama’s own Katie Britt? Or do they send out Silent Cindy again?

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