Senate Dems set up IVF showdown

Congressional Republicans have
rushed to defend IVF in the aftermath of a controversial Alabama Supreme Court ruling even as many have signed onto so-called personhood legislation with no carve-out for embryos in clinics.

In calling for unanimous consent, it would take only one Republican senator to scuttle the bill, which could also highlight divisions within the GOP over how to respond to the Alabama ruling that frozen embryos should be protected as people.

Duckworth, who had two daughters through IVF and was briefly stationed in Alabama while serving in the military, first introduced her IVF bill in 2022 and
reintroduced it this January
with a House companion led by Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). The legislation would establish federal protections that override any state policy that restricts access to IVF. When Duckworth
attempted to call up the bill
in 2022, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) objected without explanation and scuttled the vote.

Duckworth, joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and cosponsors of the bill, on Tuesday argued that the bill’s national protections for assisted reproductive technologies are newly essential in light of Alabama’s February ruling.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a leading cosponsor of the bill, argued in favor of the unanimous consent strategy despite the risks, given that any one member of the chamber can block it.

“We all know how much we have to do in the Senate right now to get the appropriations bills passed so that the government doesn’t shut down,” she said, adding that Republicans would likely use “every procedural move” to drag out a vote for “several weeks, if not more.”

“There’s no reason to use all that time,” she said, arguing that the current threat to IVF is enough of an emergency to warrant the expedited process.

Still, should Republicans object on Wednesday, Duckworth said she would “love” to schedule a roll call vote on the bill. Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether he would be open to giving floor time to the issue.

Duckworth added that despite the
stampede of GOP officials expressing support for IVF since the Alabama ruling dropped, she has not heard from any colleagues across the aisle willing to support her bill.

Though some, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have said they’re willing to consider the legislation, other conservatives, such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), insist it’s unnecessary, dismissing the idea that other states could quickly follow in Alabama’s footsteps.

Democrats in the House and Senate are working to counter this idea, arguing that what happened in Alabama will not stay in Alabama.

“This is a federal issue,” Rep. Susan DelBene (D-Wash.), chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, told reporters. “We’ve continued to see the states pass legislation but then try to reach beyond their boundaries to either criminalize behavior or risk women’s access to reproductive care. We need a clear federal solution so that women and families are protected all across the country.”

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