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WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked Democrats' push for nationwide protections on in-vitro fertilization (IVF), as the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade nears.

The bill needed 60 votes to advance but failed 48-47, largely along party lines. Only two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined Democrats in voting for the bill.

"We're making this point like, 'Come on, if you say you're for this, then be for it,'" Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in an interview ahead of the vote, referring to Republicans. Fellow Minnesota Democratic Sen. Tina Smith also supports the legislation.

The bill would establish a statutory right for patients to access IVF, for providers to be able to provide IVF and for insurers to cover the procedure "without prohibition, limitation, interference or impediment."

Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have protected contraception access, characterizing the legislation as a political maneuver by Democrats in an election year.

Senate Republicans also blocked similar IVF legislation brought forward in response to the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling that frozen embryos should be considered children. That decision was issued in a pair of wrongful death cases brought by couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed in an accident at a fertility clinic.

The 2022 Dobbs decision helped Democrats in the midterms that year and may have prevented Republicans' chances of the red wave they had anticipated. Aware of that vulnerability heading into 2024, the National Republican Senatorial Committee quickly called on GOP candidates to reject any government efforts to restrict IVF.

But Republicans said the latest IVF bill was a stunt to boost Democrats ahead of the elections, along with last week's vote on the right to contraception bill — and won't work.

"These are stunt votes," National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines said in an interview. "These are purely show votes because they're desperate to find something to talk about."

But Smith, vice chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, pushed back on that notion. She said she thinks Republicans' positions on the latest reproductive rights bills could hurt GOP chances at trying to win back the Senate and result in a repeat of 2022.

"Republicans are out of step with where Americans are on this issue and women are not going to get over this. They're not going to just forget about it because it's their bodies and it's their lives," Smith said.

Republican Sens. Katie Britt of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas had introduced their own version of an IVF protections bill that would have barred states from receiving Medicaid funding if they banned access to IVF.

But Democrats said the GOP bill had loopholes that would have allowed states to restrict IVF and blocked the Republican-led legislation.

Minnesotans Meta Getman and Miraya Gran have been at the U.S. Capitol this week to meet with lawmakers and share their stories about the challenges they faced accessing IVF. Sen. Amy Klobuchar shared their stories on the Senate floor...
Minnesotans Meta Getman and Miraya Gran have been at the U.S. Capitol this week to meet with lawmakers and share their stories about the challenges they faced accessing IVF. Sen. Amy Klobuchar shared their stories on the Senate floor...

Sydney Kashiwagi

Meta Getman and Miraya Gran, two Minnesota mothers who underwent IVF and are advocates from Resolve, a national infertility association, have been at the U.S. Capitol this week to meet with lawmakers and share their stories about the challenges they faced accessing IVF. Klobuchar shared their stories on the Senate floor before lawmakers cast their votes.

Both Getman and Gran were vocal in trying to pass a bill in Minnesota this session that would have put requirements on insurers to cover infertility treatment, but the legislation did not pass.

"I hope it's an opportunity for anyone who's in the opposition to really hear these stories of factual, real life, things that are happening in Americans' lives," Gran said ahead of the vote.

Following the vote, Gran said she hopes voters will respond accordingly on Election Day.

"I would hope that the American electorate answers back properly this fall and chooses the side that supports pro-family legislation," she said.

"The senators who voted no spoke very clearly and loudly to me. And I hope that the American people see who voted no and really think about is that the type of person they want representing them and making our laws in this country," Getman said.

This story contains material from the Associated Press.