National News

Senate Republicans Block Bill to Protect IVF Treatments Nationwide

The U.S. Capitol is seen in this photo. On June 13, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have protected IVF treatments across the country. (Photo: OSV News/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic-sponsored bill June 13 to protect in vitro fertilization treatments across the country.

The legislation needed 60 votes to move forward but the final tally was 48-47 with two Republicans voting for it: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The measure, called The Right to IVF Act, was introduced by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. It was meant to ensure that health providers offer this treatment, giving individuals access to it, and for insurers to cover some of the costs.

IVF treatments gained national attention after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law and as a result someone who destroys them could be held liable for wrongful death. The court’s ruling prompted providers to stop fertility treatments, but state legislators approved a bill to protect IVF in the state.

The Catholic Church has spoken out against IVF, particularly for the treatment of embryos.

“Donum Vitae,” a 1987 document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stresses that human embryos are human beings with rights and that “their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable ‘biological material.’”

Several Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., have signed on to legislation that would give a fertilized egg the rights of a person.

Just before the June 13 IVF vote, several Senate Republicans sought to advance a more narrow bill that would cut Medicaid funding for states that banned the fertility treatment. 

The Senate’s vote took place a day after Southern Baptists, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, voted to oppose the use of IVF and called on its members to “reaffirm the unconditional value and fight to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage.”

The Senate IVF vote was also a week after Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic-led measure to codify the right to contraception access across the country. In this bill, just as with the IVF measure, Murkowski and Collins were the only Republicans to support it. The vote was nine short of the 60 needed to advance it.