Sen. Duckworth skeptical Republicans will back IVF bill after court rules embryos are people

Reacting to a controversial new Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos should be considered people under the law, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said on Sunday that she was "devastated" for how this could affect treatments like in vitro fertilization.

She also called out conservatives whom she suggested were being disingenuous in distancing themselves from the case.

"Let's make it clear: Republicans will say whatever they need to say to try to cover themselves on this, but they've been clear and Donald Trump has been the guy leading this effort to eliminate women's reproductive rights and reproductive choice," Duckworth, an Illinois lawmaker, told ABC News "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz. "And so this is the next step."

Referring to her Access to Family Building Act, which would guarantee access to IVF and other reproductive services, Duckworth added, "It's been crickets since the Alabama ruling ... not a single Republican has reached out to me on the bill. I've introduced a bill, multiple times, now multiple Congresses -- but frankly, let's see if they vote for it when we when we bring it to the floor."

Duckworth understands firsthand the fertility challenges many women face. After years of trying to have children, she turned to IVF, eventually having two daughters because of the procedure. She even made history in 2018 by becoming the first senator to have a child, her second daughter, while serving in the chamber.

She reflected on her experience with IVF on "This Week" in describing the potential ramifications of the Alabama ruling by the all-Republican state Supreme Court.

"The decision is very clear that a fertilized egg is a child, is a human being, which means that for example in my case, when we have five fertilized eggs and three were non-viable. When my doctor discarded those with my consent -- that would be considered potentially manslaughter or murder," Duckworth said.

MORE: Physicians share concerns over IVF treatments pausing after Alabama court ruling

Alabama's attorney general has said he won't prosecute IVF providers or families who use the treatment, but some Alabama clinics have already halted their IVF services over fears the court ruling creates new legal risks for the clinics, doctors and patients.

"Republicans have put the rights of a fertilized egg over the rights of the woman. And that is not something that I think the American people agree with," Duckworth said Sunday.

Trump and other leading Republicans have come out in support of IVF since the Alabama court ruling -- "We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies not harder," Trump said last week -- but they have not said, specifically, how the law should change regarding whether embryos are people.

Some previous Republican proposals on reproductive rights also did not include exceptions for IVF.

PHOTO: In this March 15, 2023, file photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth talks to reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this March 15, 2023, file photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth talks to reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE)

Duckworth on Sunday linked the latest ruling to the decadeslong push to restrict abortion, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court's reversing Roe v. Wade in 2022, after Trump named three conservative-leaning justices to the bench.

Going into the 2024 presidential campaign, Duckworth argued, "This is what we're going to be talking about."

"We're going to talk about the fact that Donald Trump is the guy and Republicans have been working literally for years to take away your reproductive choice, which includes access to IVF for people struggling to start families," she said.

In the wake of Trump's latest double-digit win in the GOP primary race, in South Carolina on Saturday, Duckworth, a co-chair of President Joe Biden's reelection campaign, said their message will be to contrast him with Trump, who is hammering at Biden over inflation, immigration and foreign policy.

"Donald Trump has been very clear about what he's doing. He's not running for president for the American people. He's not running for president to take care of working families. He's running for president for himself," Duckworth said.

She also blamed Trump for the failure of a bipartisan border package in the Senate despite "compromise" from both parties, calling it a "knife" in the back of Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, who worked for months to broker the deal -- only to have Trump and some other conservatives dismiss it as insufficient and weak.

"When we gave Republicans what they wanted, it was Donald Trump who killed the compromise," Duckworth said.

When pressed by Raddatz on whether she would support Biden taking executive action that would make it harder for migrants to claim asylum -- something that is under consideration and likely to draw backlash from progressive Democrats -- Duckworth said she was in favor of that because of the "crisis" at the border.

She also highlighted provisions in the failed border package that would have allowed asylum-seekers to work while their cases were being adjudicated.

"There was stuff that fixed the border problems but also allowed us to let to be humane about how we take care of the migrants who are here," she said.

Sen. Duckworth skeptical Republicans will back IVF bill after court rules embryos are people originally appeared on abcnews.go.com