WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of Alabama’s State Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos created during the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process are “children” under state law, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing legislation to protect access to IVF and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) nationwide.  The Access to Family Building Act—which would establish a statutory right to access IVF for all Americans who need it to start or grow a family—has 47 Senate cosponsors.  Nonetheless, Senate Republicans blocked the passage of the legislation last week.

“IVF has opened the door to parenthood for millions of Americans who have struggled with infertility.  But now some extremists are trying to slam that door shut by limiting access to IVF and making prospective parents jump through additional hoops and making IVF care more expensive.  Their real goal is to take away people’s reproductive freedoms,” said Senator Reed.  “I support the Access to Family Building Act to ensure federal protections for IVF access.”

“When the right-wing Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it ended a fundamental freedom for women.  Now, MAGA Republicans are intent on restricting access to IVF,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “The decision to start or grow a family is immensely personal, and it’s none of the government’s business.  I thank Senator Duckworth for sharing her story and leading this legislation to safeguard access to family planning.”

The Access to Family Building Act would:

  • Establish a statutory right for an individual to access, without prohibition or unreasonable limitation or interference, assisted reproductive technology services, such as IVF, and for a healthcare provider to provide ART services;
  • Establish an individual’s statutory right regarding the use or disposition of their reproductive genetic materials, including gametes;
  • Allow the Department of Justice to pursue civil action against any state, government official, individual or entity that violates protections in the legislation; and
  • Create a private right of action for individuals and healthcare providers in states that have limited access to ART.

After the Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs ruling, many women have had their constitutional right to abortion ripped away from them as a result of state abortion bans.  Access to IVF and other assisted reproductive technology in order to build a family are also under threat.  The new patchwork of state abortion bans has created significant confusion among patients and providers alike about what services doctors can and cannot provide—including ART—in states with the most restrictive laws.  These threats have led IVF centers to call for new protections.  In a number of states, Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would restrict access to ART.  In a leaked audio recording, a leading anti-abortion group advised state lawmakers to avoid discussing regulating IVF and contraception at this time but noted that restrictions could be revisited in a few years.  The Alabama State Supreme Court’s ruling is the latest attack in the broader assault on a woman’s right to decide if, when, and how to have children and start a family. 

The Access to Family Building Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

This legislation is endorsed by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

A copy of the bill text can be found here.

Despite the ruling in Alabama, IVF is currently protected in Rhode Island.