Where Arizona Republicans in Congress stand on bill that could jeopardize IVF treatments

Published: Monday, February 26, 2024 - 1:58pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 10:26am

Several Republican members of Arizona’s congressional delegation co-sponsored legislation that is receiving new scrutiny after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children.

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which would give constitutional equal protection rights to the unborn. And Rep. David Schweikert co-sponsored an identical, older version of the bill in 2021.

Unlike similar legislation that Republicans ran in the U.S. Senate in 2017, the House bill, which would ban nearly all abortions nationwide, does not include an IVF exception. The proposal is drawing comparisons to a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled that frozen embryos are considered children under a Civil War-era state law that lets parents sue over the death of a child.

The decision led several health care providers in the state, including the state’s largest hospital, to pause IVF treatments over concerns doctors or patients could face legal repercussions.

The impact on IVF patients and doctors has left Republican lawmakers, who otherwise support the Alabama court’s decision, scrambling. State lawmakers in Alabama are already working on a fix that would state embryos are only viable if implanted in a uterus, according to NPR.

Schweikert, who did not join his colleagues in co-sponsoring the latest version of the Life at Conception Act, said last week that he supports access to IVF treatment. 

“IVF is a valuable and important tool for many Arizona families,” Schweikert, who is running for re-election in competitive Congressional District 1, wrote on X. “I will oppose any effort to restrict it.”

Schweikert critics, including the House Democrats’ campaign arm and CD1 Democratic hopeful Conor O'Callaghan, were quick to highlight Schweikert’s previous support for the Life at Conception Act.

“David Schweikert’s undying commitment to ripping away reproductive rights while continuing to lie to Arizonans sums up his agenda against women and families,” Alisha Heng, a spokesperson for the House Majority PAC, said in a press release. “Make no mistake, Schweikert has already made it clear that he will stop at nothing to restrict American freedoms — including restrictions on IVF and fertility treatments.”

Schweikert did not respond to questions about why he changed his position.

According to NPR,  the National Republican Senatorial Committee is also directing its candidates, including Arizona Republican Kari Lake, to reject efforts to restrict access to IVF.

“In the Senate, I will advocate for increased access to fertility treatment for women struggling to get pregnant,” Lake wrote on X. “IVF is extremely important for helping countless families experience the joy of parenthood. I oppose restrictions.”

Biggs, Crane, Gosar and Lesko did not respond to requests for comment.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct which congressional district Conor O'Callaghan is running for. 

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