Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Senate Republicans Block Nationwide Right to IVF Bill

The bill's defeat is the latest blow in broader fight over reproductive freedoms after the Right to Contraception Act was blocked by Senate Republicans last week.

Chuck Schumer abortion IVF bill blocked by Republicans

In a major setback for reproductive rights, Senate Republicans blocked a bill on Thursday that would have codified federal protections for access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. The legislation, known as the Right to IVF Act, failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance, with only 48 senators supporting it. Only two Republicans—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—voted in favor of it. 

Every Democrat voted in favor of the bill outside of Chuck Schumer, who changed his vote to “No” so he can bring the bill up again for another vote. The overwhelming opposition from the GOP underscores the party’s increasingly hard-line stance against reproductive freedoms, even on issues like IVF that enjoy broad public support.

The Right to IVF Act, spearheaded by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), sought to enshrine the right to fertility treatments and prevent state-level efforts to restrict IVF access. It also aimed to make these crucial procedures more affordable and accessible, especially for military personnel and veterans. However, Senate Republicans, bowing to the demands of their evangelical base, unequivocally rejected this measure.

This vote is the latest salvo in a broader battle over reproductive freedoms. Just a week ago, Republicans blocked the Right to Contraception Act, which would have guaranteed nationwide access to birth control. These consecutive rejections underscore the party’s embrace of extreme reproductive restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) characterized the vote as a “very sad day for millions of Americans who want to become parents but struggle with infertility.” He lamented, “Protecting IVF should’ve been the easiest yes vote the Senate has taken all year.” Indeed, with overwhelming public support for IVF (70% of adults view access to these treatments as a positive) the Republican opposition defies the will of the people.

The Republican Party’s stance on IVF stems from an ideological belief that grants full personhood rights to embryos, a radical stance with far-reaching implications that could criminalize abortion, fertility treatments, and contraception. This belief has already taken hold in states like Alabama, where a recent court ruling classified frozen embryos as people, effectively granting them personhood status and jeopardizing the very existence of IVF clinics within the state.

Southern Baptists Condemn IVF as “Dehumanizing”

The Republican Party’s hostility toward IVF has received a powerful endorsement from the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. In a recent vote, the Convention condemned IVF as “dehumanizing,” signaling a seismic shift in the evangelical community’s stance on this issue. With their immense political clout and nearly 13 million members, the Southern Baptists’ rejection of IVF represents a turning point, emboldening the anti-abortion crusaders to go after IVF as well.

Texas GOP Platform: Death Penalty for Abortion

The Republican Party’s attacks on reproductive freedoms extend beyond the federal level. As part of its platform for 2024, the Texas Republican Party has endorsed granting “equal protection for the preborn” under Texas criminal laws. Should this platform become law, it would pave the way for doctors performing abortions and pregnant women seeking them to face state sanctioned execution. 

This chilling proposal, which has garnered mainstream support within the Republican Party, represents a terrifying escalation in the war on reproductive rights. If enacted, it would usher in a dystopian reality where the fundamental right to bodily autonomy is not only stripped away but also punishable by death.

Trump Vows to Work With Anti-Abortion Extremists

This mounting threat to IVF access cannot be disentangled from the broader assault on reproductive rights spearheaded by former President Donald Trump and other Republicans. It was Trump’s Supreme Court appointments that paved the way for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a decision he has boasted about and celebrated as a triumph.

In a chilling revelation of his true intentions, Trump recently confided to a religious group, the Danbury Institute, that he would work “side by side” with them to further curtail reproductive freedoms. The Danbury Institute, a coalition of churches and organizations that labels abortion as “the greatest atrocity facing the United States,” advocates for granting full legal rights and protections to embryos from the moment of conception.

Before the Senate voted on the bill, President Biden’s campaign highlighted Trump’s rhetoric at the inaugural Life and Liberty Conference organized by the Danbury Institute. Biden spokesperson Sarafina Chitika asserted the comments reveal his alignment with “anti-IVF extremists” who seek to “rip away women’s access to care and their freedom to start a family when and how they choose.” Chitika’s statement underscores the Biden campaign’s efforts to cast Trump as a threat to reproductive rights, including IVF, in the wake of his anti-abortion Supreme Court appointments that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Trump’s willingness to align himself with such extremist forces should raise alarm bells nationwide. His promise to the Danbury Institute echoes his recent remarks about “looking at” restrictions on contraception, a statement that he swiftly walked back in the face of public outcry. However, given his track record of appeasing the far-right and his open disdain for reproductive rights, Trump’s assurances ring hollow.