GOP senator blocks IVF protection bill because it could lead to human-animal hybrids

Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS)
Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS) Photo: U.S. Senate

A Senate Republican blocked a bill intended to enshrine federal IVF protections into law in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos have the same legal rights as children in the state.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) proposed the bill and attempted to rush it through the chamber with a unanimous consent vote, a procedure that can get a bill approved faster but can fail if even one senator objects.

In this case, the objection came from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), who also voted against the same bill when Duckworth proposed it in 2022.

Hyde-Smith called the bill a “vast overreach that is full of poison pills that go way too far.” She claimed the bill – meant to protect access to IVF and other fertility technology – “would legalize human cloning. It would legalize commercial surrogacy, including for young girls without parental involvement. It would legalize gene-edited designer babies and lift the federal ban on the creation of three-parent embryos.”

In her speech in the Senate, Hyde-Smith claimed she fully supports access to IVF and also believes human life should be protected. “These are not mutually exclusive,” she said.

She then claimed that the Alabama ruling did not ban IVF. While she is technically correct, even the Alabama justices themselves acknowledged that their decision would effectively end the practice of IVF in the state since it declared doctors who mishandle embryos could be charged with murder. Several clinics have already stopped offering IVF services to avoid this risk.

Hyde-Smith has also claimed the bill would allow the creation of human-animal hybrids – called chimeras (which is not the first time the GOP has instigated chimera-fueled panic). Duckworth emphasized, “It does nothing of the sort.”

“All the bill says, is if you want to seek reproductive technology you can, if you want to provide it you can, and if you want to cover it as an insurance company you can,” she said during her speech on the Senate floor.

The bill, called the “Access to Family Building Act”, states that individuals have the right to access “assisted reproductive technology, and all medical care surrounding such technology.” It also says these individuals “retain all rights regarding the use or disposition of reproductive genetic materials.” It also provides protections for health care and insurance providers.

Duckworth opened her speech in support of the bill by talking about her deep love for being a mom to her two children, something that was only possible for her due to IVF. She called her challenges with infertility “one of the most heartbreaking struggles of my life.”

“The very people who claim to be defending family values are the ones trying to enact dystopian policies that would prevent Americans from starting their own families,” she said.

Duckworth called out Republicans for trying to give frozen embryos “more rights than the women who would carry them,” referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade that stripped Americans of their constitutional right to abortion.

She blasted Donald Trump for bragging that he is the one who got Roe v. Wade overturned and then claiming he was against Alabama’s decision and had nothing to do with it. “We now the truth. IVF is at risk because of him. He is to blame. Him and every other GOP official who kisses his ring.”

Indeed, Republicans have been scrambling to show support for IVF in the wake of the Alabama ruling. Despite pushing for decisions like that of the Alabama Supreme Court, the Republican party is now reportedly worried it will lose favor with the hordes of voters who support expanded IVF access, including many who identify as anti-abortion.

But many of these Republicans have found themselves victims of their own hypocrisy, as 125 Republicans – some of whom have released statements supporting IVF –  are co-sponsoring a bill declaring that human life begins at conception, without an exception for IVF embryos.

Many federal GOP legislators are trying to cover their tracks by claiming they support IVF but that it’s a state issue that they shouldn’t get involved in.

Democrats are trying to ensure Americans know that the Republican agenda against reproductive rights directly led to this moment.

“In this nightmarish moment, it’s nowhere near enough to send out a vaguely worded tweet claiming you care about women’s rights, despite your voting record to the contrary,” Duckworth said in her speech, warning that they’re not going to stop in Alabama.

“Mark my words,” she said, “if we do not act now, it will only get worse.”

Duckworth is hoping for a roll call vote that would force every GOP senator to go on record with their position on the bill, but she doesn’t anticipate it happening anytime soon due to the Senate’s jam-packed calendar.

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