Biden campaign blasts Iowa bill that could limit IVF access and ties it to Trump

President Joe Biden walks across the tarmac to speak to the media before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport, in Des Moines Iowa, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Ty Rushing

March 11, 2024

The Biden-Harris campaign said in vitro fertilization (IVF) services could be jeopardized in Iowa under a new bill that was supported by nearly every Republican member of the Iowa House.

 “IVF is at risk across the country and there’s one man to blame: Donald Trump. Donald Trump proudly brags he was able to ‘kill’ Roe and now women across the country are facing the consequences,” said Biden-Harris senior spokesperson Lauren Hitt. 

On Thursday, Iowa House Republicans passed a bill to increase criminal penalties for causing the non-consensual ending of a pregnancy; however, the bill’s language was amended on the floor to swap out every variation of “terminate a human pregnancy” to some variation of “cause the death of an unborn person.”

Democratic lawmakers and reproductive rights advocates argue that this language change—especially in light of the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos are children—could hinder access to IVF and other reproductive services in Iowa.

By declaring embryos are children, those who destroy them can be held criminally liable for wrongful death, which is why it would deter providers from offering IVF.

IVF involves collecting a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm and combining the two in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are then grown in special incubators, and one or more of them are then transferred into the woman’s uterus. After about 10 days, the woman will take a blood pregnancy test to determine whether the process was successful and if she’s pregnant.

Only about a quarter of the fertilized eggs in a given process result in an embryo. 

This is why “embryo loss is a big part of the journey” of the IVF process, according to Judith Daar, a specialist in reproductive health law and dean at Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. She says “it’s a byproduct of IVF.”

Embryo loss is the death of an embryo at any stage of its development. About two-thirds of embryos created during in vitro fertilization (IVF) inexplicably stop growing in the incubators, something that scientists are only recently starting to wrap their minds around. Getting rid of those non-viable embryos is simply part of the IVF process.

It was Trump’s three appointments to the US Supreme Court that opened the floodgates for new state laws and various court rulings that have continued to jeopardize reproductive access across the country.

In 2022, the court released its 6-3 decision in Dobbs v Jackson, which upheld the restrictive Mississippi abortion law banning abortion after 15 weeks. However, five of the conservative justices—including all three Trump appointees—also used that case to overturn Roe v Wade, which had long been considered settled precedent.   

“Donald Trump has already proven he will allow our most fundamental reproductive rights to be stripped away,” Hitt said. “President Biden and Vice President Harris, on the other hand, have worked to safeguard access to comprehensive reproductive health care and will continue to fight for federal protections to ensure that people in every state have access to the care they need. Make no mistake: Basic access to reproductive health care is on the ballot this November.”

Staff writer Isabel Soisson contributed to this report.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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