After an Alabama court ruling on in-vitro fertilization made waves across the country, a growing list of Republicans are dashing to make clear they support access to the procedure while the White House accuses them of backtracking on the issue.

What You Need To Know

  • A growing list of Republicans are dashing to make clear they support access to in vitro fertilization while the White House accuses them of backtracking
  • Alabama's Supreme Court earlier this month ruled that frozen embryos can be considered childen, sparking concern from some experts about the impact on IVF treatment 
  • In a memo, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced House Republicans for “shamelessly attempting to erase their own records on IVF"
  • Abortion has been a key issue for Democratic candidates since the reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022 and the party shows so signs of letting up on highlighting the topic

In a memo on Monday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced House Republicans for “shamelessly attempting to erase their own records on IVF.”

The note specifically points to the Life at Conception Act – a bill introduced in the House in 2021 and again last year that seeks to declare the right to life is constitutionally protected “at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization.”

Jean-Pierre noted House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., along with more than 120 other Republicans co-sponsored last year’s bill, as she sought to highlight the act to make the case that the GOP is attempting to change its “true colors.” 

“And it would go even further than most bans currently in effect,” Jean-Pierre wrote of the Life at Conception Act, “starting at the moment of fertilization and making the desperate situation that women and families are facing right now in Alabama the law of the land.”

“Republican officials think they can obfuscate their way out of their support for these extreme policies. But spin is not a time machine,” she continued. “No attempt to “rebrand” can change the fact that their true colors are on the record.”

Earlier this month, the Alabama Supreme Court – which is dominated by Republicans – sparked attention around the country when it ruled that a state law giving parents the ability to sue over the death of a child “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.” That, according to the court, included embryos. 

“Unborn children are ‘children,’” one justice wrote in the unanimous ruling. 

Experts are now warning the decision could have major implications for in-vitro fertilization, an alarm bell that was accelerated last week when Alabama’s largest hospital announced it is halting the practice for now as it looks into the legal implications. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 4 million births annually in the U.S., or 1-2%, are from IVF. The treatment can be a costly one, with the average cost of a single IVF cycle costing between $10,000-15,000, per Penn Medicine, and experts are concerned that the Alabama ruling could raise those costs further.  

Since the ruling, the White House and Biden’s reelection campaign have sought to tie the decision to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and former President Donald Trump, who appointed three of the justices who were in the majority for the decision, which sparked abortion bans and highly restrictive laws across the country. 

Democrats have credited their full-throated defense of abortion for helping the party have strong showings in the 2022 midterms and 2023 off-year elections and it's an issue the party has made clear it is counting on to continue galvanizing voters ahead of Nov. 2024. 

Since Roe’s overturning in the summer of 2022, abortion rights advocates have seen major wins in states nationwide, including traditionally red ones like Kansas, Kentucky and Montana. 

“Their agenda is clear, they’re just worried it’s not popular,” Jean-Pierre said in Monday’s memo about House Republicans and the Alabama decision. 

Republicans have jumped to draw the distinction that they support access to IVF following the ruling, with Senate Republicans’ campaign arm warning the decision “is fodder for Democrats hoping to manipulate the abortion issue for electoral gain,” in a memo. 

The note to 2024 Senate GOP candidates urges them to “clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF.” 

In a display of how Republicans have sought to make the separation, Rep. Bryon Donalds, R-Fla., on Sunday emphasized that when he told reporters last week that embryos were children, he also, at the same time, “100%” supports access to IVF. 

“I was in the middle of a hallway. I heard the tail end of it. I didn't hear about the Alabama ruling. It was about do I support that embryos should be protected as life,” Donalds said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Look, embryos are important to the production of life. We all come from embryos. That's what I said because I heard half her question."

“But do I support the IVF procedure? 100% I do. It should be made available,” he continued. 

Asked if he would support federal legislation to protect IVF services, Donalds said he would want to see the details but he “could broadly support that.”

For his part, Trump on Friday noted he “strongly support[s] the availability of IVF” and called on the Alabama legislature to find a solution to protect the practice in the state. 

Similarly, Johnson said he supports IVF treatment in a statement over the weekend. 

Spectrum News' Justin Tasolides contributed to this report