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Senators move to protect IVF treatments

While the prospects of codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law face high hurdles, Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for protections of fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), which involves the fertilization of multiple eggs. Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Duckworth introduced legislation on Thursday to ban limitations on assisted reproductive technologies. 

After the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion earlier this year, advocates raised concerns about the future of popular fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization. They fear state legislation with vague language and so-called personhood bills threatens the practice. 

The new legislation, according to its authors, would prohibit limitations for individuals to access reproductive technologies, protect healthcare providers who administer them, instruct the Justice Department to take action against states in violation and create a "private right of action" for patients and health care providers in states where reproductive technologies are limited. 

"Our bill will assure every family in America that they will be able to get IVF services and not be denied that," Murray told CBS News. "What we have seen since the decision is chaos in this country, doctors don't know what they can do. We actually see Republican legislators who are already looking at banning IVF."

Duckworth has been open about her use of IVF to conceive her two children, and she was the first senator to give birth while in office. 

Murray told CBS News they are courting Republican votes, and urged former Vice President Mike Pence to push members of his party on the issue. In an interview with CBS News' Margaret Brennan last month, Pence said, "I fully support fertility treatments and I think they deserve the protection of the law," Pence, a staunch opponent of abortion, revealed his wife underwent IVF. "They gave us great comfort in those long and challenging years that we struggled with infertility in our marriage."

The patchwork of abortion laws in the wake of Roe v. Wade requires greater clarity around the impact of fertility treatments. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, many "state laws also include definitions stating that "personhood" begins at fertilization. Overly broad statutory language and definitions could — intentionally or not — implicate and even ban IVF and certain other [assisted reproductive technology] procedures."

Abortion access proved to be a potent issue in the midterm elections, and outweighed concerns about the economy in some states. Democrats urged voters to elect more Democrats to the senate in order to codify Roe into law. But even as the party maintained control of the Senate, federal abortion protections remain highly unlikely without a more robust majority. And in January, Republicans will control the House.

In an interview with CBS News, Murray acknowledged that codifying Roe "is going to be a battle" and that federal legislation to address access is "probably going to be a longtime effort." But she noted that "that every state that had a choice issue on the ballot choice won. And voters are saying that. And if Republicans continue to deny that or push this chaos, they will see the fallout in the next election."

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