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Senate Democrat blocks Republican-led IVF bill as Democrats push their own legislation

Senate to hold vote on nationwide IVF right
Senate to hold vote on nationwide right to IVF 03:40

Washington — A Senate Democrat blocked a Republican-led effort to pass legislation aimed at protecting access to in vitro fertilization on Wednesday amid dueling pushes to safeguard access to the procedure after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling brought the issue center stage earlier this year. 

Two Senate Republicans, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Katie Britt of Alabama, introduced the legislation to protect access to IVF last month. But the bill, which would deny Medicaid funds to states that prohibit IVF, was quickly met with pushback by Democrats, who questioned its scope and mechanism. Still, on Wednesday, the senators sought to approve the bill unanimously, meaning a single senator could block its passage.

"To the best of my knowledge, all 100 senators in this body support IVF," Cruz said Wednesday on the Senate floor before attempting to pass the legislation by unanimous consent. "We invite our colleagues in the Senate from both sides of the aisle to join together in supporting this crucial legislation."

Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, objected to the motion, calling the bill a "PR tool, plain and simple."

"I am not going to mince words here. It is ridiculous to claim that this bill protects IVF when it does nothing of the sort," Murray said, adding that the bill allows states to restrict the fertility treatments in other ways. 

The bill, known as the IVF Protection Act, would require that states "do not prohibit in vitro fertilization" as a condition for the states to receive federal funding for Medicaid, which provides health insurance for low-income Americans. It doesn't compel an organization or individual to provide IVF services, and it also doesn't preclude states from otherwise regulating IVF — which some Democrats take issue with. 

Britt said the bill would give the parents the certainty that access to IVF would be protected, while arguing that it wouldn't "stray" beyond, like the Democrats' proposed legislation.

Senate Democrats have pushed their own bill to protect access to IVF, which they see as more comprehensive. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, has tried to approve her legislation to protect the fertility treatments with the same unanimous consent approach on multiple occasions, attempts that were blocked by one Republican.

The GOP push for its own bill comes as the Senate is set to vote Thursday on a legislative package to protect access to IVF, which includes Duckworth's measure, as Democrats rally around reproductive rights this month. 

"If the Senate GOP really supports access to IVF, they can prove it by voting for Democrats' bill tomorrow," Murray wrote Wednesday on social media.

Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized the efforts as part of a summer of "scare tactics."

"The bottom line is the American people deserve better," Britt said of the Democrat's plan. "And there is no better path out there than our bill, the path of common-ground solutions, not show-votes or scare tactics."

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