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Virginia lawmakers sponsor bill to protect IVF after Alabama court ruling

Rebecca Barnabi
IVF in vitro fertilization graphic
(© Tatiana Shepeleva – stock.adobe.com)

An Alabama State Supreme Court ruling has encouraged Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia to sponsor legislation to protect access to assisted reproductive technology.

Around the world, 12 million babies have been born because of IVF and other assisted reproductive technology services. The first birth in the United States by IVF was in Norfolk, Virginia in 1981.

The Access to Family Building Act would establish a federal right to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) for all Americans who need it, pre-empting state efforts to limit access and helping ensure no hopeful parent – or their doctors – are punished for trying to start or grow a family.

“After the Supreme Court struck down decades of precedent in overturning Roe v. Wade, we’re seeing more and more extreme attacks on women’s health care and reproductive freedom,” Warner said. “Following the far right-wing ruling in Alabama’s Supreme Court, we have to act now to make sure IVF remains legal and accessible for Americans seeking to build their families.”

The Access to Family Building Act would:

  • Establish a statutory right for an individual to access, without prohibition or unreasonable limitation or interference, assisted reproductive technology services, such as IVF, and for a healthcare provider to provide ART services;
  • Establish an individual’s statutory right regarding the use or disposition of their reproductive genetic materials, including gametes;
  • Allow the Department of Justice to pursue civil action against any state, government official, individual or entity that violates protections in the legislation; and
  • Create a private right of action for individuals and healthcare providers in states that have limited access to ART.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is a cosponsor of the legislation.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has opened the floodgates for draconian restrictions on reproductive freedom. Americans deserve the freedom to decide whether, when, and how to start or build their families—without interference by the government. This legislation would help us codify that right by safeguarding access to IVF, and unfortunately, its passage is more important than ever,” Kaine said. 

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.