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U.S. Senate Dems to try to push through legislation protecting in vitro fertilization

Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks during a press conference on IVF inside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Also pictured from left are Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Washington state Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. (Credit: Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)

Jennifer Shutt, Nevada Current
February 27, 2024

WASHINGTON — A group of Democrats will attempt to pass a bill in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday protecting access to in vitro fertilization, saying its availability should not be restricted.

Their push to quickly approve the health care legislation comes shortly after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that fertilized eggs are children under state law, leading several of the IVF clinics in that state to halt their work.

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who had both of her daughters through IVF, said the bill is essential to maintain access to IVF for parents throughout the country who couldn’t start or grow their families any other way.

“After a decade of struggle with infertility post my service in Iraq, I was only able to get pregnant through IVF,” said Duckworth, a military veteran. “IVF is the reason that I’ve gotten to experience the chaos and beauty, the stress and the joy that is motherhood. IVF is the reason that my husband and I aren’t just Tammy and Bryan, we are mom and dad.”

Duckworth said she plans to ask for unanimous consent on Wednesday to pass her IVF bill, which as of Tuesday had 15 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen.

The process is the fastest way to approve legislation on the Senate floor, but it does allow any one senator to block the bill from moving forward. It would not require a roll call vote.

Duckworth said she isn’t open to calls to re-work the bill to include a requirement from some organizations, including Texas Right to Life, that all fertilized embryos be implanted in order for those groups to support the legislation.

“You’re going to force a woman to go through a miscarriage by implanting non-viable embryos,” Duckworth said of that proposal. “That’s what you want to do?”

“You’re going to punish women further  — women who are struggling, who scrape together everything they’ve had in order to go through these procedures,” Duckworth added.

Senators on record

Should a GOP senator block the legislation from passing the Senate on Wednesday, Duckworth said she believes that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will hold a roll call vote on the bill that would put each senator on record with supporting protections for IVF or not.

Schumer, who was at the press conference Tuesday but left before questions were asked of senators, said Congress must pass the legislation to give people pursuing families through IVF certainty.

“There’s so many countless people we all know who have the joy of children because of IVF,” Schumer said. “It’s heartbreaking, it’s enraging and Republicans know it.”

GOP lawmakers throughout the country, Schumer said, are “like arsonists who set a house on fire and then said ‘Why is it burning?’”

“Republicans own what happened in Alabama,” Schumer said, and “Democrats are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to protect women, families and reproductive freedom.”

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, last week called on Alabama lawmakers to come up with a fix for the state Supreme Court decision, and national Republicans sought to distance themselves from it, including U.S. Senate hopefuls in key races.

House bill

On Tuesday, Washington state Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said her “heart truly goes out to all the women in Alabama who are suffering right now” and called on Republicans not to block passage of the IVF bill.

Murray also rebuked the more than 120 GOP lawmakers who have co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. House that would define life as beginning at conception, a move she said would put IVF and other reproductive health care at risk nationwide.

“You cannot support IVF and support fetal personhood laws. They are fundamentally incompatible,” Murray said. “You are not fooling anyone. Women aren’t just going to forgive who is responsible for this, who ripped away their dreams of building their families.”

Ramifications of Dobbs decision

Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin traced the Alabama state Supreme Court’s decision back to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision less than two years ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

“When Dobbs was decided, millions of women were stripped of their reproductive rights,” Baldwin said. “At that time Republicans said we were being alarmist when we said the ramifications of this decision would go far beyond abortion care.”

“They said we were being dramatic when we raised that birth control might be on the chopping block. They said that we were overreacting when I fought to pass the Respect for Marriage Act to protect same-sex and interracial couples,” Baldwin added. “And they said that we had nothing to worry about when we insisted the right to IVF was in jeopardy.”

Baldwin said she supports “women’s and families’ rights to control their destiny without interference from the government or politicians.” And she called on Republicans to do the same by not blocking the IVF bill.

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the Alabama state Supreme Court’s ruling that ended IVF is just one “example of the chaos and cruelty that has been unleashed since Roe v. Wade was overturned.”

“First they interfered with a woman’s right to make her own decisions about ending a pregnancy and now they’re trying to interfere with a woman’s right to choose whether to start a family,” Klobuchar said.

“It is time to enshrine the right of people to build their own families,” Klobuchar said. “And again, we welcome them to vote with us to make this clear.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.