Pennsylvania Republicans say they support IVF but they back legislation that would ban it - TAI News
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Republicans across the country are rushing to say they support in vitro fertilization after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos are children led to several clinics immediately suspending IVF treatment in the state.

IVF involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm, resulting in one or more embryos that can then be implanted into a uterus or frozen for future use.

If embryos are declared to be people, those who discard frozen embryos for any reason — whether they already have the number of children they want or they do not want to implant embryos that have been determined to have genetic abnormalities — could face criminal penalties. 

“Before the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, we were using the term fetal personhood,” Jessica Waters, a professor of justice, law, and criminology at American University, told the Pennsylvania Independent. “Now I think we need to go even farther than that and be talking about embryonic personhood, or egg personhood, or sperm personhood. Because that’s what was so startling about the Alabama decision.”

Following the Alabama ruling, which says that the destruction of embryos is a crime under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, Republican political operatives rushed to advise candidates and GOP lawmakers to come out against the Alabama case and declare their support for IVF, noting that it is popular among voters. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the Senate, sent a memo to Republican Senate candidates telling them that they should “express support for IVF,” “oppose restrictions on IVF,” and “campaign on increasing access” to fertility treatments.

Candidates the NRSC has endorsed followed the guidance, backtracking on previous support for fetal personhood.

Dave McCormick, a wealthy businessman who is running for the GOP nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, said in a post on X: “IVF is a ray of hope for millions of Americans seeking the blessing of children. I oppose any effort to restrict it.”

However, McCormick said in a failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania in 2022 that he believes that life begins at conception — the same personhood stance on which the Alabama ruling is based.

“I don’t see how the GOP can carve out on IVF from ‘personhood,'” Jennifer Gunter, an OB-GYN who advocates for abortion rights, wrote on X. “Embryo destruction is part of IVF. And an embryo cannot be a person sometimes and sometimes not. This was an inevitable consequence of personhood.”

In the current Congress, 125 of the 219 Republicans serving in the U.S. House are co-sponsoring the Life at Conception Act, a personhood bill that would declare that life begins at the moment of fertilization. The bill, which was introduced in January 2023, has no exceptions for IVF, meaning that the embryos created in the IVF process would be considered human beings.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a memo published Monday that the Life At Conception Act is “an extreme, dangerous bill that would eliminate reproductive freedom for all women in every state. And it would go even further than most bans currently in effect — 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.”

Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson, Scott Perry, Lloyd Smucker, and John Joyce are co-sponsoring the bill.

“I think this should be a warning to every state that the real fights are not happening around abortion,” Waters said. “So the real fear that people should have is, even in states where they think abortion will remain accessible, and I think that’s a big if, but even in states where they think it’s accessible, there are so many other areas of law where fetal personhood is quietly being created.”

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The Pennsylvania Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.