Republicans Ted Cruz And Katie Britt Introduce Another Bill To Protect IVF

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Katie Britt (Ala.) on Monday introduced legislation to protect in vitro fertilization, months after a controversial Alabama Supreme Court ruling that led providers to halt the fertility procedure.

The IVF Protection Act seeks to protect IVF nationwide by barring states from receiving Medicaid funding if they implement a ban on the fertility treatment. The bill defines IVF as a procedure where “eggs are collected from ovaries and manually fertilized by sperm for later placement inside of a uterus.” The legislation states that it does not stop states from enacting health and safety protocols within IVF clinics.

“What Katie and I have done is we’ve introduced straightforward federal legislation to protect IVF, to create a federal right to IVF, which means no state can ban it,” Cruz said on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning.

“Every senator says they support IVF,” he added. “This should be an example where — look, there are issues we’re going to disagree on — but we should be able to come together, 100 to nothing, and say, ‘We stand with the ability of parents who want to love their kids to bring those children into the world.’”

The Republican bill does not create a federal right to IVF, despite Cruz repeating the claim several times in interviews with reporters. Democrats and other IVF supporters are concerned that Cruz’s and Britt’s bill could motivate states to reject Medicaid funding.

“Conceivably, a state could decide to to violate it and forfeit their Medicaid funding but no state is going to do that,” Cruz told HuffPost. “And that’s how the federal government imposes all sorts of requirements by using the lever of federal funds.”

After the Alabama ruling earlier this year, which effectively defined embryos as children, many Republicans floundered to find the right messaging on IVF.

In February, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to protect IVF. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced the Access to Family Building Act, which would have established a statutory right to IVF and other fertility treatments, as well as given physicians the right to provide fertility care without the fear of prosecution. The bill would also have allowed insurance companies to cover the cost of fertility treatments, which can be extremely high.

On Monday, Cruz, alongside Britt, spoke with Bloomberg’s Annmarie Hordern about why Senate Republicans didn’t support Duckworth’s bill, saying, “That bill is a very different bill. That bill really seeks to backdoor in broader abortion legislation, which is where the Democrats are, but that’s not IVF.” (Duckworth’s bill did not include broader legislation on abortion.)

Scroll below to read the IVF Protection Act in full.

IVF Protection Act by Alanna Vagianos on Scribd

Some experts in the IVF field cautioned that Cruz’s and Britt’s bill could open the door to state-level restrictions on fertility treatments that would chip away at access.

“The bill allows for states to push for regulations that could severely reduce the standard of care for IVF treatment, such as restrictions on how many embryos are created and what individuals can do with these embryos ― decisions that should only be made between patients and their doctors, based on science and clinical guidelines,” Barbara Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, said in a Monday statement.

Collura added that federal legislation that enshrines access to IVF, like Duckworth’s legislation, is a better solution and called on Congress to pass the Democrat’s bill instead.

Duckworth believes that the Republican bill would incentivize anti-IVF state legislatures to ban the treatment and defund Medicaid.

“Incentivizing far-right, anti-choice policymakers in deep red states to defund healthcare for low-income Americans isn’t going to stop them from also banning IVF ― they’ve wanted to rip healthcare access away from the millions who need it for decades anyway,” Duckworth said in a Monday statement.

“Americans will not be fooled by this transparently counterproductive effort,” she said. “The best way to protect access to IVF nationwide is by passing my Access to Family Building Act, which Senate Republicans keep blocking.”

The majority of House Republicans have supported legislation that would threaten fertility treatments on the national level, even though former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, claims he supports IVF.

Several other House Republicans, however, have introduced two resolutions that expressed strong support for IVF but had zero legislative power to actually protect the fertility treatment. And the same week the majority of House Republicans endorsed an abortion ban that would threaten IVF, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would have safeguarded the treatment.

The Alabama state legislature passed a law to protect IVF in the state in March, but that hasn’t stopped questions about Republicans’ consistently conflicting statements on when they believe life begins.

“Donald Trump and Senate Republicans had the chance to protect IVF nationwide, and they chose not to,” Biden-Harris campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt told HuffPost.

“By overturning Roe, Trump created the crisis that threatens IVF — and he supports states that ban abortion and rip away IVF access,” Hitt continued. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will fight for women’s reproductive rights and Americans’ ability to access IVF to start their families.”

Britt, a freshman Republican senator, rose to fame when she gave the official GOP rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in March. She reassured voters in a rather bizarre address that Republicans supported IVF.

In a joint statement with Cruz on Monday, she continued to defend IVF.

“As a mom, I know firsthand that there is no greater blessing than our children, and IVF helps families across America experience the joyous miracle of life, grow and thrive,” Britt said. “This commonsense piece of legislation affirms both life and liberty — family and freedom, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact it into law.”

Igor Bobic contributed reporting.