Senate GOP blocks bill to guarantee access to IVF nationwide

Senate Republicans voted Thursday to block a bill put forward by Democrats that would guarantee access to in vitro fertilization nationwide.

The legislation failed to advance in a procedural vote by a tally of 48-47. It needed 60 votes to advance. Republicans criticized the Democrat-led legislation as unnecessary overreach and a political show vote.

“Why should we vote for a bill that fixes a non-existent problem? There’s not a problem. There’s no restrictions on IVF, nor should there be,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, told reporters.

The vote is part of a broader push by Senate Democrats to draw a contrast with Republicans over reproductive health care in the run up to the November elections. Democrats are highlighting the issue this month, which marks the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed Republicans who voted against the bill, saying that they are being “pushed by the MAGA hard right.”

“These are the very same people who pushed to get rid of Roe in the Dobbs decision,” Schumer told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Thursday evening, referring to the blockbuster 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned a constitutional right to abortion. “We know what they’re up to. They want to get rid of IVF, they’re afraid to say it.”

Biden attacked Senate Republicans after the vote.

“Once again, Senate Republicans refused to protect access to fertility treatments for women who are desperately trying to get pregnant,” Biden said in a written statement. “And just last week, Senate Republicans blocked nationwide protections for birth control. The disregard for a woman’s right to make these decisions for herself and her family is outrageous and unacceptable.”

Republicans have criticized the Democrat-led legislation as unnecessary overreach and a political show vote.

The legislation the Senate will take up – the Right to IVF Act – would enshrine into federal law a right for individuals to receive IVF treatment as well as for doctors to provide treatment, which would override any attempt at the state level to restrict access.

The bill seeks to make IVF treatment more affordable by mandating coverage for fertility treatments under employer-sponsored insurance and certain public insurance plans. It would also expand coverage of fertility treatments, including IVF, under US military service members and veterans’ health care.

The IVF legislative package was introduced by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington state, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The vote comes after Alabama’s Supreme Court said, in a first-of-its-kind ruling earlier this year, that frozen embryos are children and those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death – a decision that reproductive rights advocates warned could have a chilling effect on infertility treatments.

While the state’s legislature took action aimed at protecting IVF in the wake of the ruling, Democrats argue that this is only one example of how access to reproductive health care is under threat across the nation.

Southern Baptist delegates, for instance, expressed alarm Wednesday over the way in vitro fertilization is routinely being practiced, approving a resolution lamenting that the creation of surplus frozen embryos often results in “destruction of embryonic human life.”

The IVF vote is the latest move by Democrats to bring up a bill expected to be blocked by Republicans. Last week, Senate Republicans voted to block a Democrat-led bill that would guarantee access to contraception.

Most Republicans dismissed the effort as a political messaging vote that was unnecessary and overly broad, though GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine crossed over to vote with Democrats in favor of advancing the bill.

Republicans have introduced their own bills on IVF and contraception. GOP Sens. Katie Britt of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas have introduced a bill called the IVF Protection Act and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has put forward a separate bill to promote access to contraception.

Cruz and Britt attempted to pass their IVF legislation on the Senate floor Wednesday through a unanimous consent request, but Democrats blocked the effort.

Murray, who objected to the request, criticized the GOP bill, arguing that states could “enact burdensome and unnecessary requirements and create the kind of legal uncertainty and risk that would force clinics to once again close their doors.”

Under the IVF bill from Britt and Cruz, states would not be eligible for Medicaid funding if they prohibit access to IVF, but the legislation “permits states to implement health and safety standards regarding the practice of IVF,” according to a press release.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Kaanita Iyer, Sam Fossum and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.

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