Kaine, Warner urge federal agency cover IVF treatment for public workers

Virginia's two senators, Sen. Mark Warner, right, and Sen. Tim Kaine, both Democrats, walk to a closed-door meeting in the Old Senate Chamber as Republicans and Democrats gather for a showdown over presidential nominees that have been blocked by a GOP filibuster, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted in advance that Republicans permit yes-or-no confirmation votes on all seven of the nominees at issue. If they won't, he declared, Democrats will change the Senate's rules to strip them of their ability to delay. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Michael O'Connor

April 24, 2024

Virginia’s two Senators were among a group of lawmakers defending access to in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which has entered the national spotlight after an Alabama ruling made it a new battle in the right’s war on reproductive freedom.

US Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner joined a group of lawmakers Wednesday urging the federal government’s human resources agency to require in vitro fertilization coverage for public employees.

“IVF is one of the most effective treatments for families struggling with infertility, and growing in popularity, with its usage nearly doubling from 2012 to 2021,” the lawmakers wrote.

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, involves a number of expensive procedures to help people get pregnant, often when they cannot do so otherwise. In IVF, eggs are fertilized by sperm in a lab, and then the fertilized eggs, or embryos, are placed in a person’s uterus, which is where babies develop.

IVF was thrust in the national spotlight in February when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization should be considered actual children, and that those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death.

The extreme ruling caused concerns IVF clinics would face greater liability in the event embryos under their care got harmed—or were discarded, as sometimes happens with IVF—and led some Alabama IVF clinics to pause their services.

News of Alabama’s ruling provoked condemnation from Democrats and even some Republicans, and opened yet another front in the right’s war on reproductive freedoms.

The Alabama state government has since passed a law protecting IVF patients and providers from criminal liability, though they did not address the underlying issue of whether embryos were considered people and some conservative groups have continued to target the treatment.

Wednesday’s message on fertility protections is just the latest effort by Democrats to ensure protections of these rights. Kaine and Warner also co-sponsored legislation to establish a federal right to access IVF.

Elizabeth Carr was America’s first IVF baby and was born in 1981 in Norfolk. Carr recently joined Kaine as his guest at President Biden’s State of the Union in March.

Dogwood is currently looking for readers interested in sharing their fertility and IVF stories. Please email our Community Editor Amie Knowles at [email protected] to share your story.

  • Michael O'Connor

    Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering Virginia news since 2013 with reporting stints at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Business, and Richmond BizSense. A graduate of William & Mary and Northern Virginia Community College, he also covered financial news for S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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