The GOP’s IVF Headache

A recent Alabama Supreme Court decision could have national implications.

What’s happening: The Alabama Supreme Court ruled the destruction of fertilized embryos can result in a wrongful death suit, effectively establishing personhood to them. Due to the risk of lawsuits, this ruling will likely end the practice of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the state as other states look on.

Why it matters: The ruling demonstrates thorny post-Roe abortion politics for Republicans who have long supported fetal personhood. Both the law and social attitudes have often been at odds with this position. The ruling places Republican candidates in a difficult spot explaining this issue before the November elections.

Republican support for personhood: The GOP has supported personhood amendments in party platforms for decades; even Mitt Romney’s platform in 2012 included it. Before Roe was overturned, the GOP could wink at pro-life activists with references to personhood without having to commit to any legal action. Now that’s no longer the case.

The numbers: Personhood, the idea that life begins at conception, is supported by the majority of Republicans, 38 percent of independents, and 23 percent of Democrats. Fertility treatments, which include IVF, are so popular that 61 percent of Americans, including 54 percent of Republicans, believe insurance should cover it.

GOP response: The GOP’s senate campaign committee told candidates to support IVF. Donald Trump touted his support for the practice and demanded that Alabama Republicans protect it. But the GOP's history of support for personhood is making that a hard circle to square.

  • For example: When Speaker Johnson stated his support for IVF, one liberal commentator noted that he had signed onto a personhood law only a year prior.