Republicans block Senate bill to protect nationwide access to IVF treatments

Senate Republicans have blocked legislation that would protect access to in vitro fertilization, objecting to a vote on the issue Wednesday even after widespread backlash to a recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that threatens the practice.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, objected to a request for a vote by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who used IVF treatments to have her two children after struggling with years of infertility. Duckworth’s bill would establish a federal right to the treatments as the Alabama ruling has upended fertility care in the state and families who had already started the process face heartbreak and uncertainty.

Several clinics in the state announced they were pausing IVF services as they sort out last week’s ruling, which said that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. The court said that three Alabama couples who lost frozen embryos during an accident at a storage facility could sue the fertility clinic and hospital for the wrongful death of a minor child.

Democrats have immediately seized on the election-year ruling, warning that other states could follow Alabama’s lead and that other rights could be threatened as well in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and the federal right to an abortion in 2022. Congress passed similar legislation in 2022 that would protect the federal right to same-sex and interracial marriages.

“Mark my words, if we don’t act now, it will only get worse,” Duckworth said.

Abortion opponents have pushed laws in at least 15 states based on the idea that a fetus should have the same rights as a person.

Hyde-Smith defended the Alabama Supreme Court decision that found frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. Republicans widely hold the stance that the federal government should not interfere with state-level decisions on reproductive care after the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision in 2022 left decisions on abortion restrictions up to states.

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