Another Day, Another Empty Display Of Support For IVF From Republicans

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Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Patty Murray (WA) plan to bring up a vote under unanimous consent on Wednesday on a bill they first introduced in 2022 that would put federal safeguards on IVF treatment. The legislation, the Access to Family Building Act, would give federal protections to in-vitro fertilization treatment and override any limits imposed on the practice by individual states (cough, cough Alabama).

Since the Democrats plan to bring it up via unanimous consent, just one lawmaker could block the bill from going to a vote. Back in 2022, before it became the issue that Republicans are scrambling to loudly support, they did just that. During a press conference announcing their plans Tuesday, Duckworth dared her Republican colleagues to block the bill from advancing to a vote again.

“Donald Trump suddenly supports IVF after crowing and claiming and taking credit for the fall of Roe v. Wade. You can’t do both,” Duckworth said. “And so let’s find out tomorrow if any Republicans show up to block the unanimous consent.”

While declaring their support for IVF very strongly this past week, Republicans haven’t yet figured out how to talk about what exactly they support, as they profess to hold the seemingly competing beliefs that embryos are “babies” but also that everyone should have access to the procedure who wants it. I unpacked this wobbliness yesterday, but Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) latest remarks on the treatment illustrate the * ~ confusion ~ * well, and signal that Republican senators will likely block the bill from going to vote Wednesday:

“That’s really at the crux of the ethics of it,” Rubio told reporters Tuesday. “How do our laws recognize the dignity of human life but also understand that the procedure that it enables is a life-creating procedure?”

“No one has IVF to destroy life, they have IVF to create life,” he added. “Unfortunately, you have to create multiple embryos, and some of those are not used, then you’re now in a quandary.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) announced she’d put forward a resolution that would shield her fellow Republicans from having to weigh in seriously on that “quandary” — just one of many complex health care issues unrelated to abortion that were left in an open field for anti-abortion activists to attack in Dobbs‘ wake.

Mace is sending around a non-binding resolution that she has asked her colleagues to consider cosponsoring by the end of the day Thursday. The resolution would have no impact on federal laws if it passed and would primarily just declare support for IVF and call on elected officials “at all levels of government” to “proactively pass legislation to protect access to fertility care and assisted reproductive technology, including in vitro fertilization,” according to Business Insider, which obtained a copy of the resolution.

The resolution does note that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on embryos’ status as children has endangered access to the procedure in the state, but in terms of tangibly protecting IVF, it’s toothless. Which means Republicans will likely point to it as their preferred form of legislation as cover when they vote against the Duckworth/Murray bill this week.

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