March 07, 2024

Duckworth and Her State of the Union Guest Underscore Urgent Need to Protect IVF Access and Reproductive Rights for All Americans with Senate Democrats Ahead of President’s Address

The Senator’s guest is one of many SOTU guests brought by Senate Democrats whose lives have been affected by Republicans’ extreme anti-abortion agenda


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and her State of the Union guest, Illinois reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Amanda Adeleye, joined Senate Democrats and their invited guests to continue to shine a light on the horrific and cascading consequences of Republicans’ anti-choice crusade—including the latest threat to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in Alabama after state’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created during the IVF process are “children” under state law. In their remarks, Senator Duckworth and her guest Dr. Amanda Adeleye underscored why it’s so important to protect access to IVF and assisted reproductive technology (ART) nationwide by passing Senator Duckworth’s Access to Family Building Act. Dr. Adeleye is the Medical Director of CCRM Fertility’s Chicago-area center, where she specializes in reproductive endocrinology and fertility. Full remarks made by Senator Duckworth and Dr. Adeleye can be found on YouTube.

“For years, even before the Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, I’ve sounded the alarm that Republicans’ decades-long campaign to rob women of their right to make decisions about their healthcare and bodies would eventually put IVF and other ART at risk,” said Senator Duckworth. “It’s thanks to doctors and health professionals like Dr. Amanda Adeleye that millions of Americans—myself included—have been able to have kids and grow our families, but Republicans intent on exerting even more control over women’s bodies are putting access to these treatments at risk across the country. I’m proud to have Dr. Adeleye as my State of the Union guest this year to remind Americans just how critical this work is and the importance of protecting IVF access.”

“I am incredibly honored to be invited as Senator Duckworth’s guest for the State of the Union,” said Dr. Adeleye, Senator Duckworth’s SOTU guest. “I believe that people should be able to build the family of their dreams. Sometimes this requires assistance with treatments such as in vitro fertilization. Access to fertility care is critical and making it explicit through a bill like the Access to Family Building Act is so important as access to broader reproductive rights are challenged. In a country as wonderful as the United States, I believe we should all have the right and the access to build the loving family we have hoped for.”

Along with Senator Duckworth’s guest Dr. Adeleye, many Senate Democrats’ State of the Union guests include women who were forced to travel out of state to receive lifesaving abortion care due to Republican abortion bans, abortion clinic directors, providers as well as moms who relied on IVF to start their families. At the press conference, Duckworth and Dr. Adeleye were joined by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and her guest Kayla Smith; Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his guests Kate Farley and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson; and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and his guest Olivia Manayan.

Duckworth is the lead sponsor of the Access to Family Building Act, legislation that would establish a statutory right to access IVF for all Americans who need it to start or grow a family. Last week, Duckworth led a group of Senate Democrats in calling for the bill’s passage through unanimous consent, but U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) objected, blocking the effort. This is the second time Senate Republicans have blocked Duckworth-led legislation that would protect access to IVF nationwide. The Access to Family Building Act builds on previous legislation she introduced in 2022. Duckworth was the first Senator to give birth while serving in office and had both of her children with the help of IVF.

Duckworth was the first Senator to give birth while serving in office and had both of her children with the help of IVF. In 2018 she advocated for the Senate to change its rules so she could bring her infant onto the Senate floor. She has made protecting and expanding access to essential reproductive healthcare a top priority.

Full remarks as delivered by Senator Duckworth can be found below:

Thank you for being here, everyone.

A few weeks from now, I’m going to get to hold my younger daughter in my lap as she squeezes her eyes shut, makes a wish and blows out the six candles on her birthday cake.

I get to have my nine-year-old run up and pull on my sleeve, begging for a piece without the frosting.

I’ll cherish every moment of it, as I always do.

This year though, I already know that it’ll feel a little bit different—that I’ll feel even more grateful than normal.

Because after a decade of struggling with infertility after my service in Iraq, I was only able to get pregnant through the miracle that is IVF.

IVF if the reason that there are birthday cakes, birthday candles, birthday wishes and birthday girls in my life in the first place.

But for countless women, that desperately-sought-after dream of becoming a mom became so much harder when the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled that embryos in that state should be considered children under state law.

Already, access to IVF has been thrown into chaos as countless would-be parents and their doctors try to figure out whether they might be criminalized for simply trying to start a family…

A nightmarish, logical step in Republicans’ decades-long campaign to overturn Roe, ban abortion and take away our bodily autonomy.

Meanwhile, the half-baked response that the Alabama state legislature has thrown together—and recently signed by their Governor—is nothing more than an insult to IVF patients and common sense alike…

It’s a response that doesn’t do anything to address the underlying issue of deeming that a fertilized egg is a child with more rights than the woman who has to bear that child…

It won’t even go so far as to say that IVF does not constitute manslaughter.

At this point… now that the first domino has fallen… it seems like it could only be a matter of time before more extremists succeed in enacting even more dystopian policies nationwide that take away women’s access to even the most basic reproductive care. 

You know, I was stationed in Alabama for a bit when I was in the Army. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but infertility would become one of the most heartbreaking struggles of my life—my miscarriage more painful than any wound I earned on the battlefield.

So, it’s a little personal when a majority-male court suggests that people like me who aren’t able to have kids without the help of modern medicine should be in jail cells not nurseries.

That’s one reason why I’m so grateful to have Dr. Amanda Adeleye with me from Illinois as my State of the Union guest this year.

As a reproductive infertility specialist, Dr. Adeleye has dedicated her life to doing this life-altering, life-affirming work.

She knows what’s right—even if extremist courts would like to rob millions of us of our rights…

Even if far-right groups would like to throw her into jail just for giving people like me the chance to experience even the most banal moments of parenthood:

Just to have a newborn whose diaper needs changing… a toddler whose shoes need to be tied.

Look, last week, I tried to get the Senate to pass my Access to Family Building Act—legislation that would enshrine into law every American’s right to become a parent via treatments like IVF.

Republicans didn’t hesitate even a moment before blocking it, despite the fact that they’d spent the days prior shouting from the rooftops that they did support IVF.

But their actions speak louder than their words, and their actions make clear the hypocrisy and misogyny that defines today’s GOP.

So for Dr. Adeleye’s sake… and for every would-be mom or dad out there… I will never stop pushing and pulling… clawing and fighting… to pass this bill. 

Because every woman should have the right to be called “mom” without also being called a criminal.

And if my Republican colleagues ever decide to truly care about defending the sanctity of families like they claim they do, then they have an opportunity to prove it by helping turn my bill into law.

I’m so proud to have Dr. Amanda Adeleye here, I’m going to ask her to come up and say a few words. Thank you.

Full remarks as delivered Dr. Adeleye can be found below:

Thank you for those kind words. And thank you so much to Chairwoman Murray and to Senator Duckworth for being incredible advocates for reproductive care and for supporting IVF.

I'm a reproductive endocrinologist, so what that means is I'm an OBGYN by training. Then, I spent several extra years training on infertility. And the bread and butter of what I do is fertility care and that includes in-vitro fertilization—or IVF.

It's my passion to help people build the family of their dreams and I was so disturbed when I saw what was happening in Alabama. Not only was I disturbed, but so were my colleagues, as were patients and future patients that could be affected by that Alabama Supreme Court decision.

So, my ask is really simple. It's clear that everyone here really wants people to be able to build families and there's a simple way to do that. Let's allow access or confirm access for IVF care using Senator Duckworth's amazing bill, the Access to Family Building bill.

And also, I think it's a really important time for us to recognize this is not only a woman's issue, but it's everyone's issue. We want to make sure that fertility care is accessible to everyone.

I'm so honored to be here today with these incredible people in order to hopefully make this a reality. Thank you.