Republicans struggle to respond as Democrats emphasize the Alabama IVF ruling

More than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court declared that frozen embryos produced for in vitro fertilization were people with legal rights, upending fertility care in the state, the ruling is reverberating nationally, putting Republicans on the defensive.

On “State of the Union” on CNN on Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican supporting former President Donald Trump, was asked about the implications of the ruling — made possible by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in its 2022 Dobbs decision, which was a result of Trump’s appointment of three justices.


Abbott tried to cast IVF, which has been available for more than 40 years, as a novel subject confronting legislators.

“Because this is a relatively new issue, we’re just going to have to find ways to navigate laws and facts, situations that are very complicated,” he said.

IVF typically involves creating multiple embryos but implanting only one at a time to maximize the chances of a healthy pregnancy, which means that the remaining embryos are frozen, and that some are never used. Abbott acknowledged that he did not know the details, saying, “I have no idea mathematically — the number of frozen embryos, is it one, 10, 100, 1,000? Things like that matter.” (One frequently cited 2011 study found that the ideal number of eggs to retrieve was 15, but numbers vary widely based on age and other factors.)

Abbott also raised questions, such as what happens if someone who has frozen embryos dies or gets divorced, that have long been subjects of discussion among IVF patients, doctors and lawyers.

“I’m not sure everybody has really thought about what all the potential problems are, and, as a result, no one really knows what the potential answers are,” he said when CNN host Dana Bash asked whether Texas families pursuing IVF “need to worry.”

After the Alabama ruling rocked presidential and congressional campaigns over the past week, Trump said Friday that he supported IVF and that Alabama lawmakers should act to protect it. And the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate campaign arm of Republicans, said the party’s candidates should “align with the public’s overwhelming support for IVF.”

Asked on CNN whether such remarks “undercut” Democrats’ criticism of Republicans, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat supporting President Joe Biden’s reelection, said, “Hell, no, it does not.”

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