Schumer Tees Up A Vote On IVF To Make GOP Squirm Some More

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 5: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) looks on during a news conference following a vote on the Right to Contraception Act at the U.S. Capitol on June 5, 2024 in Washington, DC. Senate... WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 5: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) looks on during a news conference following a vote on the Right to Contraception Act at the U.S. Capitol on June 5, 2024 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats, seeking to put reproductive rights at center stage heading into November's election, held a vote to move forward with legislation to codify the right to contraception access nationwide it was blocked by all present Senate Republicans, except Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Ed. Note: Nicole Lafond will be back to helming Where Things Stand soon.

Abortion politics was a minefield for Republicans even before the Alabama Supreme Court granted full legal status to frozen embryos, but in the aftermath of that decision the fault lines within the GOP have become more visible.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is aiming to exploit and highlight those divisions with a vote as soon as Thursday on a bill protecting IVF nationwide. The Democratic bill — sponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (IL), Patty Murray (WA), and Cory Booker (NJ) — is an amalgam of three other previously introduced bills on reproductive health.

The IVF vote comes on the heels of last week’s Senate vote on protecting access to contraception nationwide, another instance of Senate Democrats forcing awkward votes for Republicans in advance of the election. Awkward because Republican positions on reproductive health are broadly unpopular but remain a key litmus test internally, especially with the religious right.

The contraception bill failed due to lack of Republican support, and the IVF bill is expected to meet a similar fate. But setting aside the parliamentary maneuvering and election year positioning, the issue of IVF has Republicans genuinely scrambling.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who is running for re-election this year, has a new campaign ad out revealing that his youngest daughter is undergoing IVF treatment and promising to “always protect IVF.” Scott’s ad tries to paper over the issue by claiming it’s just all part of Democrats’ “ridiculous” attacks that Republicans “hate women, birth control, even IVF.” In the spirit of papering it all over, Scott is also sponsoring a “non-binding” Senate resolution in support of IVF.

In another sign of the internal tensions, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Katie Britt (R-AL) last month introduced a bill that would deny Medicaid funding to states that ban IVF. Punchbowl reports that Republicans may maneuver this week to use some combination of their own pending measures to blunt the Democratic effort to hold them over a barrel on IVF, but there remains considerable division within the conference on this.

This comes against a backdrop of conservative and religious groups rallying to oppose IVF. The Heritage Foundation took strident issue with the Cruz-Britt bill, accusing the two Republicans senators of cheerleading for “Big Fertility.”

Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Indianapolis beginning tomorrow where it will vote on whether to oppose IVF, a position being pushed by Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler spoke today to a group of several hundred uber-conservative Southern Baptists who are trying to drag the convention farther to the right.

While condemning the conviction of Donald Trump, whom he said was more aligned with SBC values, Mohler said: “But if we believe in the sanctity and dignity of every single human life from the point of fertilization, we need to recognize any intervention by an embryo, any commodification of the embryo, any turn of the embryo into a consumer product is an assault upon human dignity.”

It’s not clear whether the SBC will approve the resolution opposing IVF. The Senate is likely to take up the issue on Thursday.

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Notable Replies

  1. Annie wonders what “intervention by an embryo” would look like. Seems like an idea for a Stephen King story.

  2. Avatar for tpr tpr says:

    The most powerful nation on the planet, utterly crippled by the most absurd and artificial dysfunction. Meanwhile, the oceans turn to acid and boil.

    I can’t wait for the next superhero movie. This time, the good cape is gonna punch the bad cape to death in a special way not seen since 1996! Ima take my family to see it every day of my birthday week.

  3. Avatar for gr gr says:

    Another moral inconsistency: If you have a reverence for life, then presumably you would favor the use of IVF for couples who cannot have a child by natural means.

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