MIL-OSI USA: Schatz Slams Republican Efforts To Criminalize IVF, Dismantle Reproductive Freedoms

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Hawaii Brian Schatz

WASHINGTON – In the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court decision that effectively banned in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the state, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today spoke out on the Senate floor and called for protecting IVF access and restoring reproductive rights across the country.

“Gutting Roe was never going to be enough. It was a gateway to an all-out war. And right now, millions of women in America are paying the price. They’re terrified of what they can and cannot do and what may or may not land them in prison,” said Senator Schatz.

“It is not a crime to start a family, but now it is. It is not a crime to dispose of a non-viable embryo in a lab. But Republicans have made sure that it is a crime,” Schatz continued. “It didn’t occur to me that they were going to go after people actually trying to get pregnant. This is not about babies and life and families. This is about punishing women. This is about taking away their autonomy. This is their objective.”

The full text of Schatz’s speech can be found below. Video is available here.

Overturning Roe v. Wade, as outrageous and devastating as it was, was never going to be the end for Republicans. They knew that. And we knew that because they weren’t exactly keeping it a secret, except there was a set of center-right and even center-left Republicans and pundits who swore privately that it wouldn’t open the floodgates to an even greater assault on women’s reproductive freedoms.

They scoffed at even the possibility of the very kinds of outcomes that we are seeing playing out across the country today. Like last week when the Alabama Supreme Court effectively banned IVF and left people who are trying to start a family with nowhere to turn. It turns out people were right to be worried. And one of the worst infirmities in this town is that somehow you are considered savvy, thoughtful, centrist, an institutionalist if you never, ever freak out. “Everything is going to be fine. Everything is always going to be fine. He’s not going to try to overturn the results of this election. They’re not going to go through with overturning Roe versus Wade.” Every savvy person at every cocktail hour that I don’t attend is always telling us to chill out. But now it’s happening. They went through with it.

They repealed Roe and all of the worst-case scenarios from all of the organizations that push for reproductive freedom were deemed right. I still remember the great senator from the state of Colorado who made as an emphasis in his reelection campaign women’s reproductive freedom. And you know what everybody called him on the Republican side, not Mark Udall, Mark Uterus. They thought that was hilarious. “Look at this weird focus on women’s reproductive freedoms.” And he sat there and said, “but look, if the Supreme Court changes hands, then Roe is imperiled.” And everyone was told to chill out. They made fun of this United States senator for predicting the future. People were right to be worried.

Extreme Republicans are going after women and reproductive freedoms through every way that they can in Congress, in statehouses, in the Supreme Court, and in state courts. Gutting Roe was never going to be enough. It was a gateway to an all-out war. And right now, millions of women in America are paying the price. They’re terrified of what they can and cannot do and what may or may not land them in prison. It is not a crime to start a family, but now it is. It is not a crime to dispose of a non-viable embryo in a lab. But Republicans have made sure that it is a crime. Do you know how hard it is to do IVF? Everybody who’s at least my age knows somebody who had a struggle getting pregnant. And that thing is emotionally and physically and financially exhausting. And I’ve never thought of IVF through a partisan lens. I honestly hadn’t. It didn’t occur to me. It didn’t occur to me that they were going to go after people actually trying to get pregnant. This is not about babies and life and families. This is about punishing women. This is about taking away their autonomy. This is their objective. And, you know, five years ago, you might have come to me – and if I made this kind of speech – it would have been like, “whoa, it’s a little much, buddy. They’re not going to do that.” They did that. They are still doing that. Republicans in Congress were quick to dismiss, even got a memo from their campaign committee to distance themselves from the very policies that they enabled for literally decades.

They will try to, on the one hand, say they are for IVF, but on the floor block legislation to enable IVF and support fetal personhood legislation and blocked bills to protect IVF federally. They did it yesterday. So no one is fooled. I know the senator from Connecticut and I have been talking about this. Sometimes it’s very difficult to see through the fog on policy. This one, it’s not unclear who did what and what they are in the middle of doing. There is nothing pro-life about ripping away the only options available for someone trying to have a kid. There’s nothing pro-life about jeopardizing a woman’s life by forcing her to carry a non-viable pregnancy to term. That’s not a principled belief. That’s insanity. That is actively harming an innocent person.

In the wake of last week’s decision, fertility clinics in Alabama are abruptly pulling the plug on IVF treatments because they’re afraid of being prosecuted. And that’s leaving people wondering if they’ll be able to have a kid or not. Not only can they not go through the process in Alabama, they can’t even move their embryos because they are afraid of getting in legal trouble. They can’t even move their embryos. The most optimistic scenario was a laboratory… democracies, states can do whatever they want. You can’t even, like take your own embryos and move it to another place where IVF is legal. Say you’re a couple in Birmingham close to completing the IVF process. Suddenly, you can’t continue it in your home state and you don’t have the ability to finish it somewhere either. Overnight, these patients are left without options, with no notice and no recourse.

The human implications of the Alabama Supreme Court decision are as obvious as they are devastating. But it’s also important to be crystal clear about how we got here politically, because this decision is not an anomaly. It’s not a fringe view held by a few wacky judges in a single state. It’s the direct result of a decades-long organized national effort by Republican hardliners to dismantle reproductive freedoms that were, until recently, the law of the land. They’ve shown zero restraint in going after people’s rights, and there’s no reason to believe that they’re going to stop any time soon. They will not. They did this and they want more. And they have a plan. This is on them. This record is theirs to own.

MIL OSI USA News