WASHINGTON, DC -- Nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case severely eroded women’s reproductive freedom, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is joining with Senate Democrats to protect access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and prevent states from restricting access to the procedure.

“For some prospective parents who struggle with fertility issues, their only chance at having children is through IVF.  But now, some Republican legislatures and activist judges are seeking to deny them that opportunity and forcing them to put family planning decisions on hold.  I cosponsored the Right to IVF Act to protect reproductive care and make life a little easier for patients going through the IVF process.  Passing this bill would give them peace of mind and prevent a partisan, out of touch judge from suddenly halting their fertility treatment and taking away their opportunity to have a child of their own,” said Senator Reed.

Earlier this month, Senator Reed joined U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in introducing the Right to IVF Act (S.4445) to protect nationwide access to fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technology, as well as lower the costs of IVF treatment to make it more affordable.  The bill would require that health plans including the VA, TRICARE, Medicaid, Medicare, group and individual market plans, ERISA, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits program provide coverage for fertility treatment.

This week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Right to IVF Act, which includes elements of the Access to Family Building Act (S.3612), the Veteran Families Health Services Act (S.2801), the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act (S.2386) and the Family Building FEHB Fairness Act (S.1262). 

Passing this legislation has become an urgent priority in the wake of the Dobbs decision, which served as a springboard for the Alabama Supreme Court’s February ruling that embryos outside of the womb are entitled to the same rights as children.  That ruling forced many prospective parents and the fertility doctors and clinics that serve them to halt treatments.

“The Supreme Court got the Dobbs decision wrong and did a real disservice to many families trying to conceive, adding a layer of legal complications and uncertainty to an already expensive and emotional process.  Passing this bill would help protect those going through the IVF process from political interference.  It would help make it easier for families to grow,” said Reed.  “Instead of putting IVF parents at risk, there should be a bipartisan commitment to passing this bill and providing access to these vital services at a lower cost.”

Infertility affects an increasing number of individuals.  According to the Endocrine Society, about 9 percent of men and about 11 percent of women of reproductive age have experienced fertility problems and about 2.3 percent of all infants born in the U.S. each year are conceived using assisted reproductive technology.  

In 2022, 91,771 babies were born from IVF-assisted pregnancies, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, including 221 in Rhode Island.

So far, 13 states have introduced fetal personhood bills that would affect the legality of IVF, according to the non-profit Guttmacher Institute.

The full U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.  Under Senate rules. the cloture vote will require 60 votes to advance the legislation.