Republicans embrace IVF despite the destruction of human embryos

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Numerous Republican lawmakers are announcing their support for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and distancing themselves from an Alabama Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of some legal protections for human embryos.

IVF is a fertility treatment in which doctors fuse sperm and eggs to create human embryos and implant them in the mother’s womb without a sexual act. Embryos that are intended to be implanted at a later date are frozen. Undesired embryos are routinely destroyed or used for scientific research, which kills those preborn children. 

The Alabama Supreme Court recently found in an 8-1 decision that human embryos are covered under the state’s "Wrongful Death of a Minor Act." The ruling stems from a lawsuit in which three families argued an IVF clinic should be held accountable for the accidental death of their preborn children, which were frozen embryos under the clinic’s care. Some Alabama clinics suspended IVF procedures after the ruling. 

Even though the destruction of human embryos remains an integral part of the IVF industry, a growing number of Republicans who say they are pro-life have come out in support of the procedure. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Congressional Leadership Fund (which is the main House Republican political action committee), and former President Donald Trump all released statements that encouraged Republicans to support IVF. 

House resolution would protect IVF

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace from South Carolina introduced a resolution that would affirm the House’s support for IVF procedures.

The current draft, provided to CNA by a congressional staffer, would express the chamber’s support for “continued access to fertility care … such as in vitro fertilization.” It would further urge lawmakers at all levels of government to pass bills that protect IVF.

Although the resolution would not impose any new regulations, Mace told Axios she is “looking at legislative options." It’s unclear whether such legislation would prevent states from legally protecting preborn children created through IVF.

Mace’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNA about how IVF procedures could be compatible with pro-life policies.

Rep. Kat Cammack, a Republican from Florida, told CNA that “IVF has helped thousands of American couples become parents” and asserted that restrictions on IVF procedures are “nonsensical.” 

“If we’re going to support life, we should protect these important treatments, improve maternal health outcomes, and support new moms during their pregnancies and after birth,” Cammack said. “To be pro-life is to be pro-woman and pro-family, and to argue that restricting IVF access is any of the above is nonsensical."

A spokesperson for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (SBA) criticized the proposed resolution, noting that it would condemn laws that exist in Louisiana, which prohibit the intentional destruction of preborn children developed through IVF. However, it does not prevent doctors from transporting them to another state for destruction. 

“This resolution takes an ‘anything goes’ approach and completely ignores that the families who filed the Alabama lawsuit did so because they saw their embryos as their children who were recklessly destroyed,” the spokesperson told CNA. “The Mace resolution leaves no room for reasonable laws like the one in Louisiana that for decades has protected embryos while also allowing IVF. In fact, there are more babies born through IVF in Louisiana than in Alabama.”

SBA’s scorecard, which grades a lawmaker’s fidelity to pro-life causes, gives Mace a “D,” but Cammack has an “A+.”

A top-down push to get Republicans on board

Following the Alabama ruling, some Republican Party leaders are pushing Republican lawmakers and candidates to embrace IVF.

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Jason Thielman, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, sent a memo to Republican Senate candidates late last week, claiming “there are zero Republican Senate candidates who support efforts to restrict access to fertility treatments” such as IVF and urging them to embrace pro-IVF messaging. 

“Clearly state your support for IVF and fertility-related services as blessings for those seeking to have children,” Theilman recommended. 

The memo further suggested that candidates “publicly oppose any efforts to restrict IVF” and “campaign on increased access.” It added: “It is imperative that our candidates align with the public’s overwhelming support for IVF and fertility treatments.”

Several Republican Senate candidates followed suit and have come out in favor of IVF procedures, including Tim Sheehy in Montana, Kari Lake in Arizona, and Bernie Moreno in Ohio. Current Republican senators, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, have similarly voiced their support for IVF. 

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the largest political action committee supporting Republican House candidates, similarly pushed lawmakers to support IVF. 

"It's useful and important for swing district Republicans to show empathy, sympathy and clearly voice support for consensus positions like IVF," Congressional Leadership Fund President Dan Conston said, according to Reuters

The former president and leading candidate to be the 2024 Republican nominee, Donald Trump, also backed IVF and encouraged Republican lawmakers to do the same.

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“We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social. “That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every state in America.”

There has not been much pushback to this messaging from within the Republican Party.

Some lawmakers who are backing IVF are also cosponsors of the Life at Conception Act. The legislation, which has 125 cosponsors in the House, would recognize the personhood of every human from the moment of fertilization. The House version of the bill introduced last year does not include an exemption for preborn children created through IVF, which highlights an apparent contradiction between the two positions.

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