'Right to IVF Act' blocked by Senate Republicans in latest battle

Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, from left, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thu

Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have established a nationwide right for women to access in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the vote on Thursday, aiming to highlight differences on reproductive care as the election approaches.

The bill, known as the Right to IVF Act, was championed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran who used IVF to conceive her two children. The proposed legislation sought to expand access to fertility treatments through insurance coverage and extend these benefits to military members and veterans.

"As a mom who struggled with infertility for years, as a parent who needed IVF to have my two beautiful little girls, all I can say to my Republican colleagues in this moment is, ‘How dare you,’" Duckworth, D-Ill., said following the vote.

All Republicans, except Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted against advancing the measure, resulting in only 48 votes—far short of the 60 needed. Instead, GOP senators proposed alternative legislation discouraging states from enacting explicit bans on IVF, which Democrats blocked on Wednesday.

The lack of compromise and the back-and-forth political maneuvering show that Congress is now focused on campaigning for the upcoming fall election, which is just five months away.

Schumer aims to protect a narrow Senate majority and boost Democrats' chances of holding the White House by spotlighting Republican resistance to federal reproductive rights legislation. 

Democrats have heavily campaigned on this issue since the 2022 Supreme Court decision that ended federal abortion rights.

"The anti-abortion movement is not yet finished. Now that Roe is gone, they have set their sights to a new target — in vitro fertilization," Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday.

Republican stance and legislative response

Most Republicans in Congress support IVF but prefer states to regulate reproductive care. 

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, emphasized that abortion rules should be left to the states, supporting exceptions for rape, incest, and saving the mother’s life.

Republicans proposed expanding fertility treatment access through health savings accounts and protecting Medicaid funding for states that allow IVF. 

Democrats blocked this proposal, arguing it was insufficient and potentially harmful. They believe the GOP bill would still allow states to enact laws granting embryos the same rights as a person.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, spoke of his daughter's current IVF treatment and proposed expanding the flexibility of health savings accounts to support fertility treatments. However, Democrats blocked this proposal on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.