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125 House Republicans — including Speaker Mike Johnson — back a 'life at conception' bill without any IVF exception

House Speaker Mike Johnson and fellow Republicans on the Capitol Steps on October 25, 2023.
House Speaker Mike Johnson and fellow Republicans on the Capitol Steps on October 25, 2023.Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
  • IVF treatments have been halted in Alabama after a ruling declared frozen embryos to be human life.

  • Most House Republicans back a bill making a similar argument — with no IVF exception.

  • Some Republicans are trying to distance themselves from the ruling, declaring support for IVF.

Most House Republicans have cosponsored a bill declaring that life begins from the moment of conception, a position under increased scrutiny after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are "unborn children."

This Congress, 125 House Republicans — including Speaker Mike Johnson — have cosponsored the "Life at Conception Act," which states that the term "human being" includes "all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being."

The bill does not include any exception for in vitro fertilization (IVF), a reproductive treatment that allows mothers to fertilize several eggs outside the womb in order to increase the chances of a viable pregnancy.

Several healthcare providers in Alabama have already halted IVF programs in the wake of the ruling, given that IVF treatments may include the discarding of fertilized eggs, which may now violate the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

The lack of an IVF exception is notable, given the carveout contained within a previous version of the Life at Conception Act introduced by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in 2017.

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child, a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization," reads the 2017 bill.

Republican Rep. Alexander Mooney, the main House sponsor of the bill, did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on why that exception was not included.

Johnson, one of the cosponsors of the bill, largely controls the House floor. His evangelical Christian views have entailed staunch opposition to abortion in the past.

"When a woman is pregnant, science tells us the new life she carries is a completely separate and fully new human being from the moment of fertilization," Johnson said during a 2021 hearing on Texas's 6-week abortion ban.

But in a statement on Friday night after the initial publication of this article, Johnson stated that he supports IVF treatment and applauded Alabama lawmakers for moving to protect the treatment in the wake of the ruling.

"I believe the life of every single child has inestimable dignity and value," said Johnson. "That is why I support IVF treatment, which has been a blessing for many moms and dads who have struggled with fertility."

In the wake of the Alabama ruling, some Republicans have scrambled to declare their support for IVF treatments, recognizing the unpopularity of any potential ban.

That includes GOP Senate candidates in competitive battleground states, who quickly moved to issue pro-IVF statements on Friday with the encouragement of Senate Republicans' campaign arm.

Some House Republicans in swing seats who have previously cosponsored the Life at Conception Act have done the same, including current cosponsor Reps. Michelle Steel of California and past cosponsor David Schweikert of Arizona.

But Democratic groups have quickly moved to point out their sponsorship of the bill, noting the lack of an IVF exception.

"House Republicans have made clear they will stop at nothing — including outlawing in vitro fertilization — to reach their ultimate goal: banning abortion and restricting reproductive rights nationwide," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Courtney Rice. "Their anti-family agenda, which elevates these dangerously out-of-touch positions into the mainstream, will cost them their majority this fall."

House Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with House Democrats, distributed a memo on Friday noting that several other vulnerable Republicans have supported the bill, either currently or in previous Congresses.

That includes Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who told Axios that her office is "drafting a resolution" to express support for IVF.

"The fact is that ANY vulnerable House Republican who cosponsored the Life at Conception Act supported putting IVF and fertility treatments at risk," reads the memo from the Democratic group. "HMP can guarantee that their support will be used against them over paid media in competitive House districts across the country this fall."

Friday, February 23, at 10:00 p.m. — This article has been updated with a statement from Speaker Mike Johnson.

Read the original article on Business Insider