GOP IVF Bill Fails in Senate

( – A Republican bill that would have improved access to in vitro fertilization has failed to get through the Senate. The bill aimed to tie Medicaid funding to permitting IVF treatment. However, in a strong contrast to their views on abortion, Democrats shot down the pro-pregnancy measure.

GOP Senators Push Pro-Parenthood Bill

On May 20, two Republican senators, Katie Britt (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), introduced the IVF Protection Act in the US Senate. Describing IVF as a “pro-woman and pro-family solution for those struggling to have children,” and “a symbol of hope,” the bill pointed out that almost 2% of births in the US result from the procedure.

The bill’s goal was to amend the 1935 Social Security Act to encourage states to permit IVF treatment. It would have achieved that by making eligibility for federal Medicaid funding conditional on allowing IVF. If states didn’t allow the treatment, and make sure local governments within the state also allowed it, they wouldn’t get Medicaid funds.

Although it’s allowed millions of Americans to become parents, IVF is controversial. Some religious groups, including the Southern Baptist church, oppose it, arguing that conception should be left to God, without human interference. Others, backed by a recent ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court, say embryos have rights and should be legally treated as children, although it’s not clear why they don’t think that includes the right to grow into a baby and be born.

However, although conservative Christians have opposed IVF in the past — and the Southern Baptist Convention voted to condemn it on June 12 — it was Democrats who blocked Britt and Cruz’s bill.

Democrats Object Over Minor Details

On the same day as the Southern Baptists repeated their opposition to IVF, Senate Democrats blocked the bill from going to a Senate vote. Although Britt told senators the law would reassure couples worried they’d lose access to the treatment, liberals refused to let it go ahead.

The reason? They’re pushing their own bill to protect IVF. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) claimed the Britt-Cruz bill would still allow states to add unnecessary rules around IVF. She also complained that the bill doesn’t allow clinics to dispose of surplus fertilized embryos, which are often created during the treatment. It looks like Democrats are opposing the bill just to strike a blow against the fetal personhood argument — and possibly so they can take the credit for protecting IVF if their own bill goes through.

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