How much would Sen. Cruz’s IVF bill protect the procedure?

The measure focuses on IVF “bans” rather than restrictions of any kind.

By Michael MarksMay 24, 2024 1:44 pm, ,

Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Katie Britt of Alabama promoted a bill related to IVF, or in vitro fertilization.

“Our bill is very simple and it’s very focused, and it’s designed to protect IVF. IVF is miraculous medical technology. It enables millions of parents to have children, to be moms, to be dads,” Cruz told Bloomberg Television.

This is not the only bill on IVF that Cruz and his colleagues have contemplated lately, though. In February, the U.S. Senate took up a bill by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, which was also designed to protect IVF access. But one of Cruz’s Republican colleagues blocked the bill from advancing.

Alice Ollstein, a Capitol Hill reporter for Politico covering health care, spoke to Texas Standard about the difference between the two bills. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: So what are the differences between this bill that Sen. Cruz is backing and the one that Republicans rejected at the end of February?

Alice Ollstein: So they’re quite different. And I will note that neither one really has a chance of becoming law right now. But it’s a good window into where individual members and the parties want to go in the future.

And so I would say the Cruz bill would penalize states that ban IVF by cutting their Medicaid funding. Now, I would pay a special attention to the word “ban.” A lot of what conservatives are advocating for, and even what happened in Alabama, was not an outright ban.

And so the concerns from health groups that I’m seeing about the Cruz bill is that, yes, it would try to deter states from passing sort of a blanket ban, but that’s not what is likely to happen. And it would still allow a bunch of restrictions that would ban the way IVF is currently practiced. So there’s some nuance there.

On the other hand, Duckworth’s bill would prevent states from restricting – imposing restrictions on IVF. And so I think it would, in the eyes of these health groups that are analyzing them, it would go further in protecting access to the procedure.

We should talk a little bit about what happened in Alabama. As you put it, it was a high profile case in February in which the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos used in the IVF process were unborn persons, and parents whose embryos were destroyed by a clinic could sue for wrongful death. Now, before that happened, I’m not sure that I remember IVF really being on the radar of many politicians at all.

I think you’re right, and I think that’s why we’ve seen such a scramble to respond to this.

However many conservatives, and especially in particularly religious denominations, have had this position for years saying that the way IVF is currently most commonly practiced in the U.S., where many embryos are created and only the ones that get implanted or have the highest chance of success, that they oppose that because they consider the ones that aren’t used and get discarded, they consider that akin to an abortion.

So even that Alabama ruling that led to hospitals and clinics in the states suspending all of their IVF services, even that wasn’t an outright ban. It was a ban on discarding unused embryos, not a ban on IVF itself. And so, arguably, even under the Cruz bill, something like that, that had this massive effect and cut off access to IVF for a lot of people, that could still go forward.

I’m wondering if Cruz weighing in in support of this IVF bill suggests there may be a split within Republicans in Washington about what they want IVF policy to look like in the United States, or if this communicates something else politically.

So I think what you’re seeing a lot of is sort of this straw man argument from some politicians saying, “oh, Democrats say we want to ban IVF, we don’t want to ban IVF, no one wants to ban IVF.”

But again, going back to this word “ban,” it’s very misleading because what you’re seeing – and in Alabama and what some conservatives are advocating for – are restrictions, not bans. Restrictions that would cut off access for a lot of people that still are not an outright ban. It’s the same debate we have with abortion, honestly.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.