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The election-year political scramble over IVF

 Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

Alabama’s state supreme court ignited a political firestorm last month when it ruled that frozen embryos are “children” with a constitutional right to life. That announcement forced many in vitro fertilization clinics to close their doors to avoid legal risk, leaving Republican lawmakers scrambling to catch up with an issue that even voters who favor abortion restrictions are concerned about.

Last week, Axios reported that a half dozen swing-district House Republicans were signing onto a resolution in support of continuing access to fertility treatment as other prominent national Republicans struggled to settle on a GOP message on the subject. In response, first lady Jill Biden invited an Alabama woman seeking IVF services as a guest at last night’s State of the Union address. To double down on the point, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) invited 42-year-old Elizabeth Carr, the world’s first “test-tube baby” to attend the speech.

Alabama Republicans quickly decided to get in front of the controversy. On Wednesday, the Alabama State Legislature passed a bill that grants civil and criminal immunity for in vitro fertilization service providers and receivers, and Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law less than an hour later. The move allows both patients and clinics to restart IVF treatments in the state without fear they could be prosecuted if embryos are damaged or destroyed during the procedure. It also highlights the election-year political stakes surrounding all aspects of reproductive rights, one of America’s most controversial political issues.


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