Ted Cruz files bill to protect IVF

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 29, 2021. Credit: Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS (Copyright 2024 by Texas Tribune - All rights reserved.)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is leading a charge to protect access to in vitro fertilization as conservative states scramble to figure out where IVF fits in the new anti-abortion legal landscape.

On Monday, Cruz and Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama, both conservative, anti-abortion Republicans, filed the IVF Protection Act, which would make states ineligible to receive Medicaid funding if they ban IVF.

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This bill comes in response to a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year that said embryos are protected human life when it comes to the state’s wrongful death statute. After that ruling, many IVF providers paused those services until the Alabama Legislature passed temporary protections.

The Texas Supreme Court is considering taking up a case that could “upend IVF in Texas,” experts say. A woman has asked the court to overturn previous court rulings that awarded her ex-husband their three frozen embryos in their divorce, arguing that Texas’ new abortion laws require embryos to have the same rights as living children.

Almost as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in summer 2022 and allowed states to ban abortion, questions emerged about the legal status of IVF.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing this legislation, Cruz and Britt said Republicans want to “protect both life and IVF.”

“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 pair wrote in the op-ed. “Our bill will honor and support families seeking to welcome a new baby into their lives through IVF.”

Cruz is up for reelection this year, facing Democratic Congressman Colin Allred, who has made Cruz’s support for Texas’ abortion laws a key part of his campaign.

“Let’s be clear, Ted Cruz’s long-standing support for an extreme ban on abortion which is now threatening IVF is why we are here,” Allred said in a statement Monday. “Cruz brags about his long record of working to take away reproductive freedom, including supporting extreme personhood legislation and opposing exceptions for rape, incest and unviable pregnancies.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has expressed his support for IVF, saying he believes the Legislature will clarify state law to protect the procedure.

Meanwhile, in D.C., Senate Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to pass two bills to protect IVF access, and House Speaker Mike Johnson has said he believes this is an issue best left to the states.

Pointing out that 86% of Americans believe IVF should be legal, Cruz and Britt say this should be a bipartisan bill that protects “life, family and personal liberty.”

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