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Dem Sen Duckworth looks to put Republicans on record with forced IVF vote

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., will attempt to force a vote Wednesday on her bill to protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures in the wake of Alabama’s controversial Supreme Court ruling, which triggered an abrupt end to some fertility procedures in the state. 

She plans to request unanimous consent from her fellow senators to bring a vote on her bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to the floor. 

Duckworth’s expected move is a bid to force Republicans to make their stance clear as to whether they believe in protections for IVF, as several GOP senators scrambled to clarify their support for the procedure following nationwide backlash to the Alabama decision. The court’s ruling faced significant scrutiny after it determined that embryos created during the IVF process should be considered children under state law. 

Several Republicans, including Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have since addressed the issue, saying they back the fertility method.

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks about a bill to establish federal protections for IVF as Sen. Patty Murray listens during a press event on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Getty Images)

“I didn’t think it was needed until now,” Romney told Politico of Duckworth’s bill. 

“We may need to take a look at what’s made available. I understand that states are looking at their laws as well. I would have several fewer grandkids if we didn’t have IVF,” he said Monday. 

Hawley went even further, stating, “I think IVF ought to be protected in law as it is in my state,” USA Today reported. The Missouri Republican also noted a difference between the issues of abortion and IVF.

Sen. Josh Hawley speaks from the podium in a Senate hearing.

Sen. Josh Hawley (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

While some Republicans professed support for the method but not explicitly the bill in question, the office of Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., indicated he backs his Democratic colleague’s measure. 

Despite some support from Republicans for IVF, and potentially for Duckworth’s bill, aides to several GOP senators indicated it is likely someone will object. 

Blackburn, who believes IVF should be protected, said in a statement, “Democrats are using fear tactics and the media to scare voters.” 

Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Sen. Marsha Blackburn questions Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 16, 2023, on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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Following the Alabama ruling, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Executive Director Jason Thielman released a memo urging candidates to back IVF, signaling concerns that the decision could be a problem for vulnerable Republicans. 

Duckworth and several other Democratic senators are set to make floor speeches at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday ahead of the unanimous consent request. 

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