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US Republicans block bill protecting access to IVF

By AFP

June 14, 2024 10:49 AM


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Republicans in the US Senate on Thursday blocked a bill recognizing a legal right to in vitro fertilization, introduced as part of a Democratic drive to underline threats to reproductive freedoms ahead of November's elections.

The legislation would have established a federal right to IVF -- an infertility treatment combining an egg with sperm in a lab -- and for providers to offer the procedure, with expanded insurance coverage to lower costs.

The vast majority of Americans tell pollsters IVF is morally acceptable, but the country is divided over the destruction of frozen human embryos created by the procedure.

The bill needed the support of 60 senators in a preliminary vote to get debate started but could only garner backing from 48, with just two Republicans crossing the aisle.

"All this bill does is establish a nationwide right to IVF and eliminates barriers for millions of Americans who seek IVF to have kids," Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

"It's personal to me. I have a beautiful one-year-old grandson because of the miracle of IVF."

The use of IVF became a hot-button election issue after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in February that frozen embryos were children, meaning that those who destroy them can be held liable for their death.

In a Gallup poll released Thursday, 82 percent of respondents said IVF is morally acceptable. Forty-nine percent said it is okay to destroy frozen human embryos while 43 percent said it is not.

But Republicans said the legislation went too far, and accused Democrats of staging a "show vote" to spread alarm over IVF access.

"Let's be clear: No one is trying to ban IVF. Not one senator," said Texas conservative Ted Cruz.

Reproductive rights have been an effective political cudgel for Democrats in the two years since the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion a constitutionally protected right.

The bench had been bolstered by three judges appointed by Republican former president and current candidate Donald Trump.

"Since the Court overturned Roe, in states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that threaten access not only to abortion but to contraception and IVF," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement.

"Donald Trump has thrown our health care system into chaos and stripped away fundamental freedoms that Americans counted on for decades."

Thursday's vote came a day after Democrats blocked a scaled-back Republican bill that would cut off Medicaid -- a government program providing health insurance for low income Americans -- for states if they banned IVF.

"Their bill would allow states to regulate IVF out of existence," said Patty Murray, one of a trio of senators who led the Democratic legislation.


AFP


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