Duckworth Pleads with Republican Colleagues on Senate Floor: Help Me Defend the Right to Build a Family Through IVF, Other Assisted Reproductive Technology
The Senator relied on IVF to have her two daughters
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – With Roe v. Wade thrown out by the Supreme Court and some states across the country looking to limit our most basic rights, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) went to the Senate floor tonight and called on her Republican colleagues to help pass her Right to Build Families Act through unanimous consent to protect every American’s right to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) that millions of Americans need to have children, including Senator Duckworth who relied on IVF to have her two daughters. Video of the Senator’s remarks can be found here.
- I might never have had my beautiful, incredible drive-me-crazy-yet-love-them-infinitely girls if Roe v. Wade hadn’t paved the way for women to make their own healthcare decisions, as I was only able to get pregnant through IVF.
- Tragically, that future—that family, that fervently-hoped-for-dream—is now in danger for millions of would-be parents across the country, as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe has Republicans plotting to push forward new policy that would go even further toward controlling women’s bodies… Including plans that could effectively ban fertility treatments like IVF.
- That’s why today, I’m asking my colleagues to pass with unanimous consent my Right to Build Families Act, which would ensure that every American’s fundamental right to become a parent via IVF is actually, truly protected, regardless of a person’s zip code.
Duckworth’s full remarks as prepared are below:
My older daughter, Abigail, just turned eight.
She’s silly, smart and gives the best hugs you could ever imagine.
She has big dreams, and if you ever meet her, you just know that she’ll reach them. She’s decided that, one day, she’s gonna become an engineer or an Army nurse. She wants to build things, and she wants to help people. That’s it.
My younger daughter, Maile, is four and a half, with just about the most contagious laugh I’ve ever heard.
My girls are my everything, and for them I’d do anything.
But Abigail and Maile might never have been born if it weren’t for the basic reproductive rights Americans had been depending on for nearly half-a-century.
I might never have had my beautiful, incredible drive-me-crazy-yet-love-them-infinitely girls if Roe v. Wade hadn’t paved the way for women to make their own healthcare decisions, as I was only able to get pregnant through IVF.
Because of IVF, I get to experience all the joys and the chaos of motherhood.
Because of IVF, my husband and I aren’t just “Tammy and Bryan.” We’re “Mommy and Daddy.”
Because of IVF, we are a family—and my heart is whole.
Tragically, that future—that family, that fervently-hoped-for-dream—is now in danger for millions of would-be parents across the country, as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe has Republicans plotting to push forward new policy that would go even further toward controlling women’s bodies…
Including plans that could effectively ban fertility treatments like IVF.
We know that because they told us. Because they said the quiet part out-loud.
One anti-choice group even admitted to GOP legislators that they’d consider figuring out how to go after IVF treatments “next year, two years from now, three years from now.”
If you’re thinking that this makes no sense, you’re right.
You’re not misunderstanding anything. You’re not missing something.
It’s the ultimate, nightmarish blend of hypocrisy and misogyny that you think it is.
The very people who claim to be “defending family values” are actively shouldering policy that would prevent millions of Americans from starting families.
In the most extreme version, they’re pushing the kind of so-called “personhood bills” that paint women undergoing IVF as criminals and our doctors as killers, even as we are trying everything we can to create life.
The thing is, they craft this kind of policy carefully… tactically.
They’re strategic about every word they use… about every comma they place… winking to their political base all the while.
Their so-called “personhood bills” don’t necessarily say, “Guess what, big news: We’re going to ban IVF, full stop.”
They say: “Hey, we’re not completely, totally, fully opposed to IVF, per se. But we definitely won’t let you implant multiple fertilized eggs at once.”
They say: “You can have this expensive, intensive procedure still—but you can only implant one embryo at a time”—a cruelly clever way to effectively prevent people from trying IVF without actually spelling it out verbatim.
The process relies on implanting multiple embryos at once to give women the best shot of becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term. So implanting only one per round would be prohibitively expensive—not to mention emotionally devastating—for many.
“Personhood” policy could also ban dilation and curettage, or D&C, after an incredibly short time—sometimes at just six weeks.
D&C is the medical procedure necessary to safely remove an unviable embryo and lining of the uterus so women can eventually try again to get pregnant.
So what happens if a woman miscarries after that six-week mark?
What happens to women, like me, who miscarried at nine weeks?
If that kind of policy had been in place in that horrible, most-searingly-painful moment of my life when I learned that my pregnancy wasn’t viable, I would’ve been kept from the medical care I desperately needed…
Care that allowed me to undergo another round of IVF.
Care that allowed me, eventually, to get pregnant with my daughter.
Over the past six years that I’ve served in the Senate, I’ve gotten to know some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle quite well.
Today, I come to the floor to ask those Republican colleagues a simple question.
Think back to that stretch of time before you became a parent.
Imagine that the only way you or your partner could get pregnant was through IVF.
Then imagine that some politicians decided that appealing to the most fringe subsets of their base was worth robbing you of your dream of having a child… was worth stealing that moment we all had, when we locked eyes with our newborns for the first time.
How would that feel? How would that sit with you?
If it so happens that you didn’t struggle with infertility… that you didn’t need a little medical help to have your child… then I’m happy for you. Truly. I can’t tell you how fortunate you are.
But if through sheer luck you won that proverbial lottery, how could you then stomach spending your time robbing other Americans—your own constituents—of the joy you’ve been lucky enough to experience?
No, no, no.
In this scary, precarious, post-Dobbs world, we cannot risk one more state getting one inch closer to stripping one more person of the right to build their family, how they choose, when they choose.
That’s why today, I’m asking my colleagues to pass with unanimous consent my Right to Build Families Act, which would ensure that every American’s fundamental right to become a parent via IVF is actually, truly protected, regardless of a person’s zip code.
My bill would keep states from banning assisted reproductive technology—known as ART, including IVF.
It would protect healthcare providers who provide ART or related counseling.
And it would allow the Department of Justice to pursue civil action against states that violate this legislation.
Because no one should feel that someone else’s religious beliefs or partisan slants could rob her of her chance to get pregnant.
And no doctor should have to risk becoming a criminal in their state’s eyes just for providing women the healthcare they need to start families.
Let’s be very clear.
If you believe in basic logic, then you know that there’s no chance that these kinds of extremist Republicans have any right to call themselves “pro-life.”
If they were pro-life, they’d do something about the number of first-graders murdered in their classrooms by military-style assault weapons every year.
If they were pro-life, they’d spend even an ounce of energy trying to staunch the maternal mortality crisis that’s killed a tragic number of Black women.
If they cared about protecting life on this planet, they’d do something about our planet dying… they’d stop stripping basic healthcare from single parents working double shifts… they’d stop trying to rip Social Security away from grandma and grandpa.
If they cared about fostering life, maybe, I don’t know, maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t try to stop women like me from creating it.
They wouldn’t throw around words like “manslaughter” when all we want is to become mothers.
Look, there are lots of really complicated, nuanced issues that we debate in this chamber.
This just isn’t one of them.
One in four women married to men have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term… a stat that doesn’t include the LGBTQ+ couples or partnerless Americans who also need the help of ART to grow families.
One in four.
That’s one in four in blue states, red states and battleground states.
One in four in the biggest of cities and the smallest of rural towns.
One in four in the wealthiest and the poorest of zip codes.
Infertility doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t distinguish. It doesn’t see party lines or state lines.
So to my Republican colleagues, please: Think about how many women that 25 percent equates to in your state… women willing to go through expensive, painful medical procedure just for a chance to experience the smallest, most banal moments of parenthood… just to have a newborn to swaddle… a toddler whose shoes to tie…. a baby whose diaper to change.
Think about those constituents of yours. If you believe that they have the right to try to be called “mom” without also being painted as a criminal, then all you have to do to prove it is help me defend this most basic right.
It’s that simple. It’s that easy.
So with that, I ask unanimous consent to pass S. 5276.
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