US Senate Republicans reject Democrats’ in vitro fertilization protection bill

WASHINGTON — Democrats’ attempts to strengthen reproductive rights in the U.S. Senate failed again Thursday when Republicans blocked a bill to guarantee access to in vitro fertilization.

The 48-47 procedural vote came just a day after Republicans tried unsuccessfully to pass their own IVF Access Act and a week after GOP senators prevent introducing further legislation that would strengthen protection of access to contraception. Senate rules require 60 votes to pass most legislation.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans, broke with their GOP colleagues to support the in vitro fertilization idea heading to the final vote. Last week, the two also voted to close the contraception access bill.

During both debates, clear majorities of Senate Republicans said the bills were either too far-reaching or too broad, which Democrats strongly rejected, calling the GOP’s position on some reproductive rights divergent from that of most Americans.

Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said during floor debate that the bill would give patients the right to access in vitro fertilization and doctors would have the right to provide infertility treatment, as well as require more insurance companies to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization.

The package included additional provisions that “would help more veterans and service members who have trouble getting pregnant get the vital fertility services they need to start a family, including in vitro fertilization,” Murray said.

“This is something I have been pushing for for years and it is long overdue,” Murray said. “To all of these men and women who have fought to protect our families, we owe it to them to make sure we support them as they return home to grow their families.”

Murray said promoting the bill shouldn’t be “controversial, especially if Republicans are serious” about supporting access to in vitro fertilization.

“As we saw in Alabama, the threat of IVF is not hypothetical, it is not exaggerated or fear mongering,” Murray said.

“Show Vote”

Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy spoke out against the bill during floor debate, stating that it is not a earnest legislative effort and that no state currently bans access to in vitro fertilization.

“As I sit here and listen to this, I cannot help but notice that my Democratic senator colleagues have chosen to be disrespectful and deceive the American people as they politicize a deeply personal issue for short-term political gain,” he said.

Cassidy, ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that if Democrats were earnest about moving the bill, they would have brought it up for debate in committee before bringing it to the floor.

He also criticized regulations that require private insurance companies to provide an unlimited number of infertility treatments while setting a ceiling on the number of treatments a veteran can receive at a Veterans Affairs clinic.

Republicans, Cassidy said, “are very open to working with Democrats on a sincere, bipartisan effort. But it’s a show vote.”

“Today’s vote is disingenuous – pushing through a bill haphazardly drafted and doomed to failure does a disservice to all who may choose to seek in vitro fertilization treatment,” Cassidy said.

GOP bill

The Senate vote came a day after Alabama Sen. Katie Britt and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans, tried to pass your IVF bill through an expedited process called unanimous consent.

Their legislation would prevent Medicaid funds from being transferred to any state that bans in vitro fertilization, although Democrats argued that such a measure would not actually protect against states classifying frozen embryos as children.

During Wednesday’s debate on her bill, Britt said she strongly supports nationwide access to in vitro fertilization.

“Across America, about 2% of babies are born through IVF, or about 200 babies a day,” Britt said. “So think about the size of this number, the faces, stories and dreams it represents. In recent decades, millions of people have been born through in vitro fertilization.”

Murray blocked the Britt-Cruz bill from passing the Senate on Wednesday after Cruz asked for unanimous consent to approve the measure. There was no recorded vote.

Access protection

The Senate Democrats’ IVF Access Act was introduced earlier this month by Illinois Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Murray and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

The 64-page bill would ensure people have the right to access in vitro fertilization and doctors have the right to provide that health care without “state or federal government imposition of harmful or unreasonable restrictions or requirements.”

The measure included provisions that would expand access to in vitro fertilization for service members and veterans, as well as spouses, partners or gestational surrogates.

The legislation defines infertility treatment as “the preservation of human oocytes, sperm or embryos for subsequent reproductive use; in vitro; genetic testing of embryos; use of fertility drugs; and gamete donation.”

The bill defines assisted reproductive technologies as “including in vitro fertilization and other treatments or procedures that handle reproductive genetic material, such as oocytes, sperm, fertilized eggs and embryos, when clinically justified.”

Duckworth tried to pass a similar bill by unanimous consent back in February. However, Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith blocked approval through the expedited unanimous consent process. There was no recorded vote at that time.

Personal experience

Duckworth spoke openly about her struggles with starting a family and using in vitro fertilization throughout her time as a senator, including a year after the Alabama Supreme Court ruling. ruled that frozen embryos constitute children under state law.

During Thursday’s floor debate, she again talked about her own experience with in vitro fertilization, which she believes is the reason she puts her 6-year-old’s drawings on the Senate office wall and is attacked by her 9-year-old on Mothers. Day.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but infertility had become one of the most heartbreaking struggles of my life,” Duckworth said of her 23 years in the military, which included a helicopter crash in which she lost her legs. “My miscarriage, more painful than any wound I have ever suffered on the battlefield.”

Duckworth said Republicans’ opposition to the bill shows a lack of “common decency and common sense.”

“I’m sorry if I find it slightly offensive when a group of politicians who never spent a day in medical school suggest that those of us who needed IVF facilitate to become moms should be behind bars rather than rocking our children to sleep in rocking chairs.”

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