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ICYMI: Kaine Delivers Speech on Senate Floor After Republican Blocks Passage of Bill to Protect IVF Access

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine—a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee—delivered a speech on the Senate floor in support of the Access to Family Building Act, legislation he cosponsored to protect Americans’ right to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology services. Kaine’s remarks followed Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R-MS) objection to passing the bill through a procedural method that requires unanimous consent by the Senate’s members. The push for the passage of the legislation followed a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that has already led to restricted access to IVF.

Photo of Senator Kaine on the floor

Broadcast-quality video of Senator Kaine’s remarks is available here.

“The first child born in vitro in the United States is Elizabeth Carr and she was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1981. Elizabeth's parents were Massachusetts residents and they struggled with infertility and their dream was to have a child. And yet it was not to be—until they heard about a husband and wife team… who had been reproductive physicians at Johns Hopkins and then went to England to train with the early pioneer of in vitro fertilization. And they came back to the United States wanting to open a clinic to help couples dealing with fertility issues. And it must have been a hard road for them to find a place that said yes, because this seemed like science fiction at the time. But the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk said: open a fertility clinic here. I remember I was 23 years old then and in my memory, there was something about it like on the cover of Newsweek—I've gone back and realized no, it was Life magazine—because it seemed like science fiction. The science is so hard to even wrap your head around. And yet the Carrs heard about this and they started to travel,” Kaine said.

“I think many of us believed that the Dobbs decision, and we made predictions about it, was not fundamentally about pro-life—it was about control. It was about control of women's decisions, with respect to abortion, with respect to contraception, and now with respect to deciding—there's a path out of infertility, I can have a child! No, we want to control that too. That's what the Alabama Supreme Court has done. That's what Dobbs was about. And that's why I'm proud to sign on to the bill led by Senator Duckworth, the Access to Family Building Act. It's as simple a bill as can be. Health care providers have a right to provide fertility treatment, including in vitro services. Patients have a right to access fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization services,” Kaine continued. “…No state should interfere with this right. None. And this is a very simple bill that would enable the Elizabeth Carrs of the world to continue to be born and to continue [to] live happy and productive lives.”

Kaine has been a vocal advocate for reproductive freedom in Congress. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. WadeKaine worked across the aisle to introduce the Reproductive Freedom For All Act, a bipartisan bill to codify the essential holdings of Roe and related cases protecting women’s rights to access abortion and contraception. Kaine has also cosponsored the Veteran Families Health Services Act of 2023, legislation that would expand the fertility treatments and family-building services covered under servicemembers’ and veterans’ health care.