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Sens. Tim Kaine, Mark Warner sponsor upcoming IVF bill in Congress

Tim Kaine speaks during a committee hearing
Jose Luis Magana
Associated Press File
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine speaks during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023.

The bill would enshrine protections for fertility treatments nationwide.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he plans to vote for a bill seeking to protect in vitro fertilization that will come before Congress Thursday.

Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner are co-sponsors of the bill. It enshrines protections for fertility treatments and requires employer-based insurance to cover the procedure.

“It's just about as vanilla as it can be. You have a right to access IVF and a provider has a right to provide IVF,” Kaine told reporters Wednesday.

In a press release last week the senators outlined the provisions of the bill that includes veterans’ health care, insurance coverage and authorizes the U.S. Justice Department to enforce a person’s right to IVF.

IVF and contraception are another flashpoint in reproductive health policy, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In his concurring opinion at the time, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas said SCOTUS should reconsider cases governing contraceptive access.

The Supreme Court of Alabama said in February that embryos could be considered children under state law, which created uncertainty nationwide on the procedure’s future. Soon after, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law that protected the procedure.

“Given how popular IVF is, and given the fact that states have taken anti-IVF actions, I think this is a really, really important bill,” Kaine said.

Virginia does not have a personhood law, but at least one bill introduced during this year’s legislative session would have banned IVF.

A Republican sponsored bill on IVF before Congress would revoke Medicaid funding if a state prohibits the procedure.

The U.S. Senate failed to push forward another Democrat-led reproductive rights bill that would’ve protected access to forms of contraception, like condoms and birth control.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed a similar bill from the statehouse.

“Any contraception-related changes must be coupled with robust conscience clause protections for providers and also must uphold the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning their children's upbringing and care,” Youngkin wrote in his veto statement.

The advocacy group Americans for Contraception said Wednesday it spent six figures on a pro-Kaine ad. The senator is seeking a third term this fall.

Voting for Kaine’s Republican challenger in the November general election ends Tuesday. Hung Cao, a Navy veteran, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Jahd Khalil covers Virginia state politics for VPM News.
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