Dems Take Advantage Of Republican Mealy Mouthing On IVF

This is your TPM evening briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and his wife Gabby Giffords attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol o... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and his wife Gabby Giffords attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 07, 2024 in Washington, DC. This is Biden’s last State of the Union address before the general election this coming November. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

As Senate Republicans put forward toothless, bad faith legislative alternatives to Democrats’ bill to protect in-vitro fertilization at the national level last week, the extent to which they are struggling to message on the issue as a party was on full display.

As my colleague Emine Yücel reported from Capitol Hill, senators squirmed and twisted themselves into pretzels trying to explain why exactly the Democratic bill to federally protect access to the popular and widely used fertility treatment went too far. Religious freedom!, some cried. Partisan politics!, others declared.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went so far as to claim from the Senate floor that he and Sen. Katie Britt’s (R-AL) bill — which would actually cut off a state’s Medicaid funding if it bans IVF (an idea Republicans have both been supporting and simultaneously pretending they don’t actually support for decades) and place restrictions on crucial components of a successful IVF procedure, like limiting how many embryos can be created — would actually make it clear to the American people that it’s the Dems who don’t support IVF.

“Understand, if the remarks end with the words ‘I object’ than Senate Democrats will have made the cynical political decision that Democrats don’t want IVF protected in federal law … because instead they want to spend millions of dollars running campaign ads suggesting the big bad Republicans want to take away IVF,” Cruz said last week.

He and Britt’s bill was ultimately blocked by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who called the legislation out for what it is: “just another way for Republicans to pretend they are not the extremists that they keep proving they are.” A day later, Republicans filibustered the motion to proceed on Democrats’ bill to federally protect the procedure, legislation they’ve attempted to pass three times since the Dobbs ruling, which put all sorts of reproductive rights in harms way, not just abortion. That’s the point Democrats have been attempting to make loudly and clearly in the months leading up to the 2024 election. Republicans are doing very little beyond assisting Democrats in making that point with their mealy mouthing on IVF — a procedure they claim to support, while simultaneously cheering the fetal personhood ideology at the heart of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that put IVF in the crosshairs in the state and beyond in the first place.

Democrats have been seizing on this wishy-washy-ness for months and in recent days. In a new essay in the perhaps pointedly accessible People Magazine, published today, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) shared their journey with IVF treatment and made clear the stakes, regardless of Republicans’ attempts to downplay the severity of the threat against the treatment. An excerpt:

This isn’t happening by chance. It’s the result of years of anti-choice efforts and the appointment of judges by governors and presidents like Donald Trump who are hostile to reproductive rights. Donald Trump said himself that he “broke” Roe v. Wadewhich set off a series of attacks on reproductive freedoms.

Twenty states now have abortion bans, including Arizona, where our state has been in turmoil between two abortion bans, both of which endanger women’s health and threaten doctors with jail time.

And it doesn’t stop there. Last week, the Supreme Court threw out a case attempting to rein in approval of abortion medication also used to treat miscarriages. But this won’t be the end. Other states could and will again challenge mifepristone, just as state abortion bans are threatening to undo a federal law that requires emergency care for pregnant women when their lives are in danger, including abortion care if necessary. The right to birth control could very well be the next target.

Despite this real threat, Republicans in Congress have multiple times in recent weeks blocked legislation that would protect access to IVF and contraception for all Americans. The truth is there is a real danger of our country moving backwards — even further than we already have.

The Best Of TPM Today

Catch up on our coverage of today’s wealth tax Supreme Court ruling from Kate Riga and Josh Kovensky:

Supreme Court Decision Spares Potential Future Wealth Tax

Out With a Whimper: Alito Keeps Head Down in Moore Case

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Trump Revenge Race In Virginia Too Close To Call — David Kurtz

What We Are Reading

He’s a car dealer with a surprising business record. He’s also running for Senate in Ohio. — Mother Jones

The Gun Lobby’s Hidden Hand in the 2nd Amendment Battle — NYT

Top Florida law enforcement official sues DeSantis, alleging he was fired for blowing the whistle — ABC News

Latest Where Things Stand

Comments are not currently available for this post.

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: