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U.S. Senate supports IVF, just not the...

U.S. Senate supports IVF, just not the opposing party’s related legislation

By: Frank Corder - June 19, 2024

(Photo from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on Facebook)

  • Senate Democrats say IVF is the next target for pro-life supporters. Senate Republicans fire back, saying their colleagues across the aisle have “embraced a Summer of Scare Tactics.”

Over the last week, one thing has been made clear in the national reproductive health discussion – U.S. Senators across the political aisle support IVF, just not the legislation related to it offered by the opposing party.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has introduced cost neutral legislation titled the Reproductive Empowerment and Support through Optimal Restoration, or RESTORE, Act that would work within existing federal programs to expand access to restorative reproductive medicine for the nearly 11 percent of women and nine percent of men affected by infertility.

The Mississippi Republican’s measure comes after Senate Democrats attempted to pass a broad bill last week aimed at establishing a statutory right to access to reproductive services such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Senate Republicans blocked the bill as it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold, a move pro-abortion supporters have criticized.

“The anti-abortion movement is not yet finished. Now that Roe is gone, they have set their sights to a new target—in vitro fertilization,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Hyde-Smith, who voted against the Senate Democrats’ legislation, is the chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus. She and her Republican colleagues have been critical of the Democrats’ legislation, saying pro-abortion advocates have been creative in spreading fear by using issues such as IVF.

“I strongly support treatments such as IVF, which have helped so many families experience the miracle of life,” Hyde-Smith said, challenging the scare tactics. “There is no question how heartbreaking it can be for couples challenged by infertility, and I believe we can do more to help couples trying to conceive get the care they need to understand and proactive treat the underlying conditions that cause infertility.”

Hyde-Smith attempted to take the bill up in the chamber in the lead up to second anniversary of the historic Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, sending the abortion issue back to states.

“It still doesn’t feel real that we were able to overturn Roe. What a blessing that was for our country,” Senator Hyde-Smith said on the floor.

U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Katie Britt of Alabama, both Republicans, offered their own version of legislation that would bar states from receiving Medicaid funding if they banned IVF treatments. The two called the Democrats’ push “scare tactics.”

“Senate Democrats have embraced a Summer of Scare Tactics—a partisan campaign of false fearmongering intended to mislead and confuse the American people. In vitro fertilization is legal and available in every state across our nation. We strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF, which has allowed millions of aspiring parents to start and grow their families,” Cruz and Britt said.

Senator Hyde-Smith’s proposed legislation is being supported by Britt and fellow Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, along with Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma, John Thune of South Dakota, John Cornyn of Texas, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

“The RESTORE Act prioritizes addressing underlying causes of infertility to help families to bring the miracle of life into the world,” said Senator Lankford. 

The Mississippi Senator’s bill focused on using existing federal programs to expand access to restorative reproductive medicine for the 15 to 16 percent of American couples affected by infertility. The RESTORE Act would training opportunities for medical professionals related to diagnosing and treating reproductive health concerns, using existing funding in Title X and within the Department of Health and Human Services, among other provisions.

“What we are trying to do here is promote long-term healing for couples struggling with infertility.  We want to empower child-bearing generations so that families can address fertility concerns in a cost-effective manner.  This bill is separate and complimentary to IVF,” Hyde-Smith said before making her unanimous consent request.

Senator Hyde-Smith noted that the legislation also contains strong religious and conscience protections to ensure that no hospitals, employees, grantees, contractors, individuals, or entities are required to provide or held liable for refusing to provide restorative reproductive medicine or fertility awareness-based methods.

Both the Hyde-Smith unanimous consent request and the one offered by Cruz and Britt were objected to by Senate Democrats.

The issue of IVF access has swirled since a first-of-its-kind ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that determined frozen embryos to be children, meaning those who destroy them could be held liable for wrongful death. National Democratic leaders have used the decision to advance the narrative that Republicans are seeking to ban IVF while national Republicans have repeatedly sought to dispel the notion.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: frank@magnoliatribune.com