US Sen. Tammy Baldwin calls on Senate to protect access to IVF - TAI News
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Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and three other Democratic members of the Senate on Tuesday called for the passage of the Access to Family Building Act, a bill that would guarantee access to assisted reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization, in the United States. 

The bill was introduced in January by Illinois U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. She, Patty Murray of Washington, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a press conference on Tuesday announcing that Duckworth will ask for the bill to pass by unanimous consent on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Unanimous consent is a way for bills to pass quickly in the Senate, without a roll call vote. However, it takes just one lawmaker objecting for the bill to fail.

Democrats first tried to pass a version of the bill, also introduced by Duckworth, in December 2022, but were blocked by Mississippi GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. That attempt came after the Supreme Court in June 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating a federal constitutional right to abortion and returning jurisdiction over it to the states, allowing Republican-controlled legislatures to pass abortion bans that both reproductive rights groups and Democratic lawmakers feared would be expanded to include bans on IVF. 

Those fears were realized last week when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that fertilized embryos are people under state law. The decision led fertility clinics to put a pause on IVF procedures out of concern that they could potentially face criminal penalties for discarding embryos for any reason, whether embryos were determined to be genetically nonviable or because patients who created the embryos did not want any more children.

In the wake of that decision, Duckworth and bill co-sponsors Baldwin, Murray and Klobuchar are once again calling for passage of the Access to Family Building Act to enact federal legal protection of IVF. 

“They [Republicans] said that we had nothing to worry about when we insisted the right to IVF was in jeopardy. Now we know we were right to ring the alarm,” Baldwin said at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. “Exactly what we have been warning about has sadly become reality for millions, and the consequences are nothing short of dire.”

“I expect them, if they live up to the words that they’re saying, to not block it,” Duckworth said, referring to GOP lawmakers who have come forward to say they support IVF. ” But we’ll see tomorrow, when the rubber hits the road, whether they actually show up and show support for IVF, or whether they actively block American families from the ability to start families through IVF.”

At the news conference, Duckworth spoke of her own personal experience with IVF and the fear she has about Republican-backed “personhood” legislation that says life begins at the moment of conception. Duckworth said that during her IVF treatment, five embryos were created; three of those embryos were determined to be genetically nonviable, meaning they would either not implant in the uterus or would result in miscarriage down the road if they did implant.

“Texas Right to Life says that they want every egg implanted, every fertilized egg implanted,” Duckworth said. “That’s not viable. Do you know what it costs each time, and you’re going to force a woman to go through a miscarriage by implanting nonviable embryos?” 

Duckworth added: “You’re going to punish women further, women who are struggling to scrape together everything they’ve had in order to go through these procedures, and you say, Okay, we know that those three, in my case, we know that those three embryos are nonviable, but if you want IVF, you’re going to have to implant them and go through three miscarriages? Is that what we’re going to do to women? This is the logical end step of where we are when you declare a fertilized egg as having more rights than a living, breathing human being.”

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