Axios Pro: Health Care Policy

February 27, 2024

Axios Pro Exclusive Content

It's Tuesday! And we have the latest on how Senate Democrats are moving fast to force a vote on guaranteeing federal protections for in-vitro fertilization.

  • Plus, senators are set to mark up legislation that would impose restrictions on certain Chinese biotech companies.

1 big thing: Dems mobilize on IVF protections

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Senate Democrats are amping up a legislative push to guarantee a federal right to IVF in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court decision that frozen embryos are considered children, Victoria reports.

Why it matters: Fallout from the decision and the way it could restrict reproductive health services is playing into election-year messaging, with Democrats saying it's a byproduct of an anti-abortion agenda and Republicans rushing to say they support IVF.

State of play: The focus is on the Access to Family Building Act, which would guarantee the right to access IVF and other fertility treatments, shield clinics and other providers and pre-empt any state restrictions.

  • The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Patty Murray and Rep. Susan Wild. A version introduced during the last Congress after the Supreme Court struck Roe v. Wade stalled amid GOP opposition.
  • Duckworth said this morning that she'll request unanimous consent to bring up the bill tomorrow.
  • "If you are genuinely, actually, honestly interested in protecting IVF, then you need to show it by not blocking this bill on the floor," she said.
  • Wild and other House Democrats are exploring options on the House side, her office said.

The other side: There's been a rush from Republican politicians to denounce the Alabama decision. But missing from most GOP statements is a clear-cut stance on what should be done with leftover embryos, which are sometimes destroyed in the IVF process.

  • National Republican Senatorial Campaign talking points urge candidates to "clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF."
  • Rep. Nancy Mace told Axios that she was planning to file legislation or a resolution to push back against the Alabama ruling.

What they're saying: So far Duckworth's IVF bill has no Republican co-sponsors ā€” and indications are some GOP lawmakers will frame the matter as a states' rights issue.

  • "I don't know what the path is for Congress in that regard," said Sen. Mitt Romney. "I didn't think it was needed until now. I understand that states are looking at their laws as well."
  • "At this stage of the game I'm not prepared to try to get into that with legislation until we actually see how a number of states come up with different solutions on their own," said Sen. Mike Rounds.

If Duckworth's UC request is blocked, she wants a roll call vote.

  • Meanwhile, House Democrats' main super PAC is planning to spend heavily attacking Republicans in competitive districts who have co-sponsored versions of legislation that would grant legal protection at the moment of fertilization.

View archive