Senate Republicans Block a Bill to Protect IVF

On June 13, the GOP blocked a bill aimed at protecting and expanding access to in vitro fertilization (IVF). The rejection of this bill demonstrates a concerning trend throughout the country condemning the use of IVF. The Right to IVF Act, introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), planned to expand access to fertility treatments like IVF by reducing unnecessary regulations on fertility clinics, protecting the right to access fertility treatments, and making treatments more accessible by lowering patient costs. 

Only one day earlier, a Republican-sponsored bill titled the IVF Protection Act failed in the Senate. Democrats claimed that this bill, which would cut Medicaid funding to states that ban access to IVF, had a provision that would allow states to tighten restrictions on fertility clinics further. Expanding access to fertility treatments has become a more controversial topic in recent years. In two famous examples, the Alabama Supreme Court and the recent Southern Baptist Convention, conservatives have condemned the use of IVF due to the belief that life begins at conception. This creates an “ethical issue” since many embryos created during IVF go unused. This increasingly popular belief has made many lawmakers wary of voting in favor of bills expanding access to usually uncontroversial fertility treatments. 

The effects of the Right to IVF bill would have had on women are real. In the United States, 15.4% of women aged between 25 and 49 have issues with infertility. While this rate has been steady, other factors surrounding motherhood have contributed to a rise in women using fertility treatments. For example, the average age of first-time mothers has increased recently, as many women pursue careers or financial stability before choosing to have children. The increased average age of mothers also means an increased infertility rate among those seeking pregnancy, leading many women to pursue fertility treatments. While exact costs vary, a single cycle of IVF in the US can range between $15,000 and $20,000; however, women need an average of 2.5 to achieve cycles for a successful pregnancy. American women can spend more than $40,000 trying to get pregnant from IVF, which most insurance providers do not cover. 

As various societal factors have led women to start families later in life, fertility treatments have become more critical than ever to women across the country. While provisions to make IVF more affordable would have been helpful to women, the right to access fertility treatments is much more critical. Women have a right to make reproductive choices for themselves, whether it be abortion or IVF. Reduced access to abortions is forcing women to have unwanted pregnancies, yet reduced access to IVF is preventing women from achieving wanted pregnancies.

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