Trump calls on Alabama to protect IVF treatment after court ruling

Donald Trump
Image caption,The former president, 77, called on Alabama lawmakers to “act quickly” to protect IVF

By Lisa Lambert

BBC News, Washington

Donald Trump has said he supports the availability of IVF treatment, joining a growing number of Republicans who are seeking to distance themselves from an Alabama court ruling on the issue.

The state’s top court ruled last week that frozen embryos have the same rights as children and people can be held liable for destroying them.

At least three clinics paused IVF treatment in the wake of the ruling.

On Friday, Mr Trump called on Alabama to find “an immediate solution”.

“We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America,” the former president wrote on his Truth Social platform.

“[Like] the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, in an apparent effort to ease concerns in the state, Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall said he did not intend to prosecute IVF providers or their families.

Mr Trump’s comments were his first on the issue, and signalled his opposition to a ruling which some Republicans fear could harm them electorally by hindering plans to win back suburban women as well as swing voters.

Mr Trump is the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for November’s election and arguably the leading voice in the party.

In a further sign of the party’s efforts to distance itself from the Alabama ruling, the National Republican Senate Committee, which helps members get elected to Congress, sent out a memo to candidates on Friday which directed them to express support for IVF and “campaign on increasing access” to the treatment.

“There are zero Republican Senate candidates who support efforts to restrict access to fertility treatments,” the committee’s executive director, Jason Thielman, wrote in the memo which was obtained by the BBC’s US partner CBS.

The memo also cited internal polling conducted by Kellyanne Conway, a one-time White House adviser to Mr Trump, to show access to IVF is overwhelmingly popular.

A number of Senate candidates, including Kari Lake in Arizona, came out to publicly support access to the treatment after the memo was circulated.

Mr Trump’s only challenger for the Republican nomination, Nikki Haley, initially appeared to back the ruling after she said she considers frozen embryos to be babies. She later denied that she supported the court’s decision.

While the Alabama ruling does not ban or restrict IVF, several medical providers in the state cited fears of legal repercussions as they paused fertility services in recent days.

It was made by the state’s Supreme Court and all of its justices are Republican.

Democrats are already incorporating the Alabama case into campaigning, portraying it as a warning that their rivals will seek to chip away at women’s rights if they win in the November election.

Mr Biden said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the Alabama decision was only possible because of the 2022 ruling by the US Supreme Court – which has three Trump appointees – to nullify abortion rights.

While many conservatives celebrated the end of Roe v Wade, it proved a potent get-out-the-vote motivator for Democrats and a messaging nightmare for Republicans.

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