Feb 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Senate GOP group urges campaigns to come out swinging against Alabama IVF ruling

 Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., attends the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing

Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., attends the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is urging candidates to strongly oppose the Alabama Supreme Court ruling restricting access to fertility treatments, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Republicans have struggled to find a winning strategy on reproductive issues since the conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade — and the Alabama case has given Democrats a chance to bash GOP candidates about the slippery slope of red states' post-Roe restrictions.

Driving the news: The Senate Republican campaign arm sent a memo to candidates Friday morning, urging them to "clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF," or in vitro fertilization, according to a copy obtained by Axios.

  • It called the Alabama ruling "fodder for Democrats hoping to manipulate the abortion issue for electoral gain."
  • "There are zero Republican Senate candidates who support efforts to restrict access to fertility treatments."
  • One senior GOP aide told Axios that anyone not speaking out on the ruling would be committing "political malpractice."

Between the lines: Most Americans support abortion rights, and the Alabama decision highlighted one of the GOP's biggest vulnerabilities in November, as it tries to retake control of the Senate and the White House, and hang on to its majority in the House.

  • The NRSC's move is a signal that many Republicans hope to navigate the post-Roe fallout by limiting how far they'll go in curbing reproductive rights — while sticking with a conservative, pro-family platform.
  • It follows similar objections House Republicans, many of whom fear the Alabama ruling could hurt GOP candidates in suburban House districts that President Biden won in 2020.

Zoom in: The memo encourages candidates to show support for fertility-related services "as blessings for those seeking to have children," and to oppose any efforts to restrict access to IVF "as a defense of family values and individual freedom."

  • It also tells candidates to push for better access, including insurance coverage and support.

What they're saying: "Make no mistake — defending life and ensuring continued access to IVF services for loving parents are not mutually exclusive," Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) said in a statement.

  • "Ultimately, IVF helps create life and grow families, and it deserves the protection of the law," she added.
  • Britt was one of the first lawmakers to criticize the ruling.
  • Republican candidate Dave McCormick, who is running for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, posted that "IVF is a ray of hope for millions of Americans seeking the blessing of children. I oppose any effort to restrict it."
  • "We want to find more ways to bring beautiful babies into this world, not less," posted Montana Senate candidate Tim Sheehy. "I will fight against efforts to restrict it."
  • "The Alabama ruling should be overturned," said former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who's running for Senate.

Zoom out: The Alabama Supreme Court ruling late last week said that frozen embryos created through IVF should legally be considered children.

  • That resulted in Alabama clinics pausing IVF treatments out of concern that doctors or patients could face criminal prosecution.
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