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Ted Cruz files legislation to protect IVF as his party seeks to declare fetuses as people

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Radical anti-choice Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) is sponsoring federal legislation that would protect access to in vitro fertilization (IVF), presumably for all prospective parents including LGBTQ+ people. The bill is at odds with the failed presidential candidate’s previous claims that life begins at conception.

However, the bill is meant to calm down voters after Alabama’s Supreme Court said that IVF’s discarding of unused embryos violates the state’s wrongful death statute. The ruling led to widespread worries that Republicans and conservative judges would block IVF treatments nationwide.

On Monday, Cruz and another pro-forced-birth senator, Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), both filed the IVF Protection Act, which would bar states from receiving federal Medicaid funding if they ban in vitro fertilization procedures.

Discarding unused embryos is a routine part of the IVF process.

“IVF has given miraculous hope to millions of Americans, and it has given families across the country the gift of children,” Cruz said in a statement. “I’m proud to partner with Sen. Katie Britt to ensure that couples in Texas and across the country have the opportunity to be loving parents, by ensuring that IVF is fully protected at the federal level.”

IVF is “profoundly pro-family,” the Cruz and Britt wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “Our bill will honor and support families seeking to welcome a new baby into their lives through IVF.”

It was Cruz, Britt, and the so-called “pro-life” movement’s agenda that led to IVF being imperiled in the first place. With the repeal of Roe v Wade, red states have been left free to impose the most draconian forms of censure restricting a pregnant person’s right to choose.

In Alabama earlier this year, that took the form of a decision from the state Supreme Court that outlawed IVF, a ruling that claimed embryos are protected human life when it comes to the state’s wrongful death statute. The immediate result was IVF clinics in the state stopped providing the service, fearing the possible legal ramifications, including charges of manslaughter or even murder.

Two weeks later, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill shielding IVF providers from civil and criminal liability. The legislation did not address the underlying issue of whether embryos are people with all the rights that designation implies.

Nor does the new bill from Sens. Cruz and Britt.

Texas, too, is poised to upend IVF in the state. The state’s Supreme Court is considering the case of a woman who is arguing a previous ruling in favor of her husband’s custody of their three frozen embryos violates Texas’ new abortion law requiring embryos to have the same rights as living children.

To date, three states — Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia — have laws that grant personhood to fertilized embryos. Arizona enacted a law granting those rights as well, but it’s currently blocked. A dozen other states have introduced legislation this year that would legally declare embryos as people.

Republicans worry that banning IVF could bring more pro-choice Democratic voters to the polls in the 2024 general elections. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, voters in seven states have supported ballot measures strengthening abortion access, even in conservative states like Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio. Similar measures will be on the November ballots in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, and South Dakota, all of which could help bring out Democratic voters to oppose former President Donald Trump and other Republican candidates.

new report on fertility legislation also reveals the disproportionate stress that post-Roe legislation is having on prospective LGBTQ+ parents.

Surrogacy agency SurrogateFirst found a whopping 98% of LGBTQ+ people and parents of all identities who disproportionately rely on assisted reproductive technology to have children are concerned about legislation seeking to restrict family-building services.

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