Democrats Put IVF and Abortion in the Spotlight at Biden’s State of the Union - The World News

Democrats Put IVF and Abortion in the Spotlight at Biden’s State of the Union

Among the hundreds of guests who will fill the House chamber on Thursday evening — each invited to telegraph distinct political messages — will be dozens of reproductive rights advocates and providers invited by Democrats who are looking to put access to abortion and fertility treatments front and center this election year.

Twenty-eight Democrats in the House and at least seven in the Senate chose their guests for their reproductive health experiences or advocacy background. They include the first person born in the United States via in vitro fertilization, women who relied on I.V.F. to get pregnant, abortion providers and women who were denied abortions by state bans after learning of fatal fetal anomalies or developing conditions that threatened their health and fertility.

It is all part of an effort by Democrats to highlight their support for reproductive rights, while seizing on the stringent restrictions imposed by Republican-led states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It is also a way for them to spotlight how Republicans — many of whom have backed abortion bans and the notion of fetal personhood — have endorsed policies that could put access to abortion and fertility treatments at risk.

“It’s the fight of our lives. We have Republicans — they want to either force women to stay pregnant, or prevent women from getting pregnant,” said Representative Lois Frankel of Florida, who invited Dr. Cherise Felix, an OB-GYN who fled Tennessee’s abortion ban to practice at a Planned Parenthood in West Palm Beach. “The threat of Donald Trump is real. It’s because of him that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and we know that Joe Biden will be a warrior for us.”

After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that frozen embryos should be considered children, a decision that imperiled access to I.V.F. in the state, Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, invited Elizabeth Carr — the first American conceived in a lab. Ms. Carr was born in 1981 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Alabama lawmakers passed a law on Wednesday to protect I.V.F. providers from criminal and civil liability.)

“It’s more important than ever that we commit to protecting access to I.V.F. services nationwide,” Mr. Kaine said in a statement.

Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the No. 2 House Democrat, invited Amanda Zurawski, a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Texas’ abortion ban who was permitted to undergo the procedure only after going into septic shock when her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. On Thursday, Ms. Zurawski said that she has turned to I.V.F. to start a family after the infection she sustained in her earlier pregnancy compromised her fertility, and she moved her frozen embryos out of state after the Alabama ruling, fearing a similar restriction could come down in Texas.

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, invited Kayla Smith, who spent thousands of dollars traveling there for an abortion in 2022 after being denied one in Idaho after she found out that her baby — which she emphasized on Thursday was “very wanted” — had fatal anomalies. Ms. Smith is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in September challenging Idaho’s abortion ban.

Ms. Murray said it was paramount that Democrats “shine a light on the horrific consequences of Republican abortion bans that have ripped away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”

Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to codify federal abortion rights and to protect access to I.V.F., but have faced Republican opposition. Last week, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican of Mississippi, blocked quick passage of a bill to protect access to fertility treatments.

“It’s really clear who’s standing up for women and trust women to make decisions about their own bodies and about their own health care — it’s Democrats,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, who invited Dr. Amanda Adeleye, a reproductive endocrinologist. “So my reminder to voters is remember who’s watching out for your reproductive rights. It’s certainly not Republicans.”

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