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Biden Targets Republicans on IVF and Abortion Access in State of the Union

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Updated: | Originally published:

Convinced that the ongoing Republican threats to abortion access will provide his party political jet fuel in November, President Biden spoke forcefully about reproductive rights in his State of the Union address Thursday night, calling on Congress to protect both access to abortion and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“Guarantee the right to IVF. Guarantee it nationwide,” Biden said, tapping into an issue that emerged just weeks ago after an Alabama court decision determined an embryo has the same rights as a child, upending IVF treatments for those in the state hoping to use the procedure to conceive. Responding to the uproar, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law Thursday designed to give immunity to the state's IVF providers.

As a sign of what a political liability the IVF issue has become for Republicans, Senator Katie Britt of Alabama was selected to provide the party's rebuttal to Biden's address. "We support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization," she said during her rebuttal. Last month, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to protect IVF nationwide.

Biden’s defense of IVF treatments was a shift in the messaging he had been delivering on reproductive rights for nearly two years, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision. He also lambasted former President Donald Trump and other Republicans for boasting about having nominated three of the Supreme Court justices that helped overturn the nearly 50-year constitutional right of access to abortions.

Biden highlighted two guests of First Lady Jill Biden to hammer home the issue, including Kate Cox, a mother from Texas who had to travel out of state for a medically necessary abortion. Cox was seated with First Lady Jill Biden. “Her own life and ability to have children in the future were at risk,” Biden said. “It’s happening to too many others.” He warned that many Republicans in the room were promising voters that they would pass a national abortion ban. “My God what freedom else will you take away?” Biden said, fumbling his words slightly.

Biden also introduced Latorya Beasley, a woman from Alabama, who had to stop her IVF treatment after the court decision. “Let’s stand up for families like her,” Biden said.

Biden said that he believed Roe V. Wade “got it right” in securing access to abortion in the country, and emphasized that if voters elect Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in November, he would push for a law enshrining nationwide the same protections to abortion access that Roe had guaranteed.

“Clearly those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America,” Biden said. “Women are not without electoral power—excuse me—electoral or political power,” he added, referring to a line from Justice Samuel Alito’s 2022 opinion that overturned Roe. “You are about to realize just how much you were right about that."

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