On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked passage of legislation by three Senate Democrats, the Right to IVF Act, a set of four bills designed to guarantee nationwide access to in vitro fertilization. The measure received 51 votes of all Democrats and Independents but needed 6o to move forward.

This move coincides with an election-year initiative aimed at spotlighting Republican resistance to protecting reproductive care.

Send. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) are leading this renewed effort to safeguard access to IVF and other fertility treatments. They aim to use the bill to highlight Republican reluctance to support federal protections for reproductive care, an issue likely to be forefront in voters’ minds this fall.

The legislation aims to create a statutory right to access IVF and other reproductive technologies while also protecting providers from facing criminal charges. Additionally, it seeks to increase accessibility by mandating that employer-sponsored insurance plans cover fertility treatments, making them more affordable for families.

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The bill extends IVF protections and access to veterans and service members, providing them with increased access to fertility counseling and treatments.

The three senators combined four previously blocked reproductive bills – the Access to Family Building Act, the Veteran Families Health Services Act, the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act and the Family Building FEHB Fairness Act – aiming to revive the conversation around IVF and increase the chances of passing the legislation.

“I’m proud to unveil this sweeping legislative package with my colleagues that would actually protect the freedom to receive or provide IVF nationwide while making these treatments more affordable and accessible for the millions of American families – including military families and Veterans – who are experiencing infertility across the country,” announced Duckworth, who had her two children through IVF.

“Struggling with infertility is painful enough,” she added. “Every American deserves the right to access the treatment and tools they need to build the family of their dreams without the fear of being prosecuted for murder or manslaughter.”

Access to IVF came to the forefront of lawmakers’ attention following an Alabama Supreme Court decision earlier this year, which ruled that frozen embryos could be considered children under state law, leading several clinics to suspend IVF treatments.

Duckworth and Murray have long championed access to fertility treatments and assisted reproductive technologies. However, Senate Republicans have consistently blocked every IVF bill brought forward by Democrats, including Duckworth’s Access to Family Building Act in February.

Senate Republicans recently initiated efforts to promote their own proposals. In May, Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Katie Britt (R-Alabama) introduced legislation. They asserted it would protect IVF and create a federal right to IVF by prohibiting states from receiving Medicaid funding if they imposed an IVF ban.

Critics of the bill denounced Republicans’ efforts to utilize the legislation as a “PR tool,” arguing that it would simply incentivize states to decline Medicaid funding.

“Unlike GOP legislation that would not protect IVF and is only a PR tool for Republicans to hide their extremism, our Right to IVF Act would actually protect Americans from attempts to restrict IVF and would allow more people to access these vital services at a lower cost,” said Murray in a statement.

The Democratic bill is expected to receive backing from Senate Democrats, but garnering support from GOP senators will prove significantly more challenging.

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