Feb 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Biden campaign torches Trump after GOP blocks IVF bill


Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is seizing on Senate Republicans' decision to block a bill enshrining federal protections for in-vitro fertilization (IVF), arguing that former President Trump would have intervened if he truly supported IVF.

Why it matters: Republicans are under massive pressure to distance themselves from the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling that frozen embryos should be considered children, which prompted several of the state's fertility clinics to pause IVF treatments out of fear of prosecution.

  • Trump said in a statement last week that he supports IVF, but a campaign spokesperson declined to say in an interview with ABC News whether the former president would back a federal law protecting access.
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Wednesday attempted to pass a bill via unanimous consent that would establish federal IVF protections, but it was blocked by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

What they're saying: "It's simple: if Donald Trump supported IVF, he would demand Republicans protect access to it — but he hasn't," Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt told Axios on Wednesday in a sneak peek at how the campaign intends to approach this issue.

  • President Biden — and Democrats writ large — have explicitly tied the Alabama ruling to the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, made possible by Trump's appointment of three conservative justices.
  • "The moment Roe was overturned, Donald Trump's legacy became every abortion ban, limit on women's health care, and any family losing access to the IVF treatment they need across the country," Hitt said.

The other side: Senate Republicans have characterized Duckworth's bill as messaging "bait" and federal overreach, with several — while stating that they support IVF — arguing that the matter should be left to the states.

  • "I support the ability for mothers and fathers to have total access to IVF and bringing new life into the world. I also believe human life should be protected. These are not mutually exclusive," Hyde-Smith argued on the Senate floor.

The big picture: Some Republicans are grappling with how to square their professed support for IVF with their past endorsement of a bill that declared life begins at conception, given that leftover embryos are often discarded as medical waste.

  • As with abortion rights, public opinion polling suggests that the IVF backlash could pose a huge electoral threat to Republicans in November.
  • 66% of the public oppose designating IVF embryos as children and holding those who destroy them legally responsible, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released Wednesday.
  • Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway shared polling with Republicans in December that found an astonishing 86% of voters support IVF.
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