Biden targets Trump on IVF ruling, as GOP scrambles

Biden targets Trump on IVF ruling, as GOP scrambles

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling jeopardizing access to in vitro fertilization has left Republicans across the country scrambling to stake out positions on a procedure that is broadly popular with Americans.

It’s also provided President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign with what it sees as a freighter-size political opening to pin much of the blame squarely on Donald Trump.

Ahead of a speech Trump is scheduled to give Thursday evening to conservative Christian broadcasters in Nashville, Tennessee, the Biden campaign has gone aggressively on the offensive, accusing the former president of being responsible for current reproductive rights restrictions across the South and elsewhere.

“Tonight Donald Trump will come face to face with the horrific reality he created: speaking in a state that has banned abortion entirely with no exceptions for rape or incest,” Kevin Munoz, spokesperson for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

After the Dobbs Supreme Court ruling, a decision Trump has taken credit for, Tennessee banned nearly all abortions, allowing the procedure only when a woman’s life is at risk.

“Next door in Alabama,” Munoz continued, “couples who face challenges becoming pregnant are cruelly being denied the right to start a family.”

Munoz’s comments reflect the emerging belief among many Democrats that Republicans — already paying an electoral price for the overturning of Roe v. Wade — will be hurt even further by the Alabama ruling. On Thursday, a third clinic in the state chose to pause IVF treatment, citing legal concerns.

The ramifications of those closures were quickly felt in statehouses across the country. Several Republican governors attempted to avoid directly addressing the Alabama court decision on the merits while defending IVF as a procedure during interviews at POLITICO’s Governors Summit on Thursday.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee told POLITICO that he wasn’t aware of all the details of the Alabama ruling but in general was supportive of IVF. His stance was echoed by Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who held off on commenting on the court decision but said he was also supportive of the fertility treatment.

“You have a lot of people out there in this country that they wouldn’t have children if it weren’t for that,” Kemp told POLITICO. The Georgia governor also notably signed into law legislation banning abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy.

Trump, for his part, has so far remained silent about the Alabama ruling and access to IVF, which remains popular among Americans, even those who consider themselves anti-abortion. A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment about his position on the Alabama ruling or on access to IVF treatments.

One of Trump’s highest-profile campaign surrogates, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), appeared uncomfortable with a question about IVF on Thursday as he spoke to reporters outside a polling site in Hanahan, South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican, who is among Trump’s possible picks for vice president, dodged a question about the ruling, specifically whether he thought embryos are children.

“Well, I haven’t studied the issue,” Scott said after casting his vote in Hanahan.

Trump’s last remaining major primary opponent, Nikki Haley, initially said she agreed with the Alabama court that “embryos are babies.” But later she said she did not necessarily support the court’s decision.

During the primary, Trump has tried to present himself as having a more moderate approach to abortion. Throughout the presidential primary, he has said he opposed national abortion regulations and he criticized states that had passed six-week abortion bans. But he’s also claimed credit for nominating the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

In his statement, Munoz said Trump is “ready to ban abortion nationally if he’s allowed back in power.” The Biden campaign also sought to link Trump’s plans for a second term to policy proposals from The Heritage Foundation’s “Project 2025.” That project has called for heavy restrictions on reproductive rights, though the Trump campaign has cautioned that it is not representative of his platform.

Biden released a response of his own Thursday afternoon, saying “the disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.”

“Make no mistake,” Biden continued, “this is a direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”

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