Senate Republicans introduce bill to protect IVF access


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Washington — Two Senate Republicans on Monday introduced legislation to protect access to in vitro fertilization, known as IVF, after a Democratic-led effort to do so failed earlier this year in the upper chamber.

The bill, titled the IVF Protection Act, was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama.

It seeks to safeguard IVF nationwide by banning states from receiving Medicaid funding if they enact an outright ban on the fertility procedure. The bill defines IVF as “eggs are collected from ovaries and manually fertilized by sperm, for later placement inside of a uterus.”

It would not force any individual or organization to provide IVF services, nor would it prevent states from implementing health and safety measures within clinics that provide such services.

“IVF has given miraculous hope to millions of Americans, and it has given families across the country the gift of children,” Cruz said in a statement Monday.

Britt said in a statement that the procedure is “pro-family” and that legislation “affirms both life and liberty.”

Lawmakers have sought to protect the fertility treatment after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are considered children under the law. The Alabama ruling could have major implications on the procedure, and raises questions about whether frozen embryos that are not transferred into a woman’s uterus will have to be stored indefinitely or whether charges could be brought for wrongful death if an embryo does not survive the process.

Several clinics in Alabama paused IVF treatments after the ruling over fears of legal repercussions if the treatment failed. Alabama has since enacted a law shielding in vitro fertilization providers from potential legal liability.

The ruling also threatened to become a liability for Republicans as polls showed that most voters think IVF should be legal.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois sought to have her bill, the Access to Family Building Act, passed by unanimous consent in February, but it was blocked by Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, who said it was a “vast overreach.”

Duckworth’s bill would have granted individuals the right to IVF and other fertility treatments and given health care providers the right to provide such care without fear of being prosecuted. The measure also would have allowed insurance providers to cover the costly treatments.

Cruz claimed in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday that Duckworth’s measure sought to “backdoor in broader abortion legislation” in explaining why it did not have Republican support.