Lankford says Republicans are against ‘tucked down’ measures in bills, not contraceptives and IVF

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Sunday sought to clarify Republicans’ stance on contraceptives and in vitro fertilization (IVF), arguing GOP lawmakers are not against these but the less obvious measures included in some reproductive bills.

“Democrats right now are saying that Republicans are against contraceptives, they’re against IVF, none of those things are true,” Lankford said on NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday.” “And none of those things are actually being challenged.”

“What [Democrats] are putting into some of this legislation are little position pills in the legislation so they can say, ‘Hey, you’re opposed to contraceptives because we had a contraceptive bill and you voted against it,'” Lankford continued. “Well, I did vote against it because they also put into it a challenge to what’s called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for the first time in Congress’s history.”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 prohibits any U.S. agency, department or official from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

“We would say your faith doesn’t matter if you’re a health care provider, whatever it may be … insurance company … your faith no longer counsels that. Well, we’ve never done that,” Lankford said.

Pointing to a proposal in a contraceptive bill regarding gender-affirming operations, Lankford added, “So those little things that were talked into a contraceptive bill, no one talked about.

“They just said Republicans were against contraceptives, and they would just ignore all the other aspects of it that were built in the bill that obviously Republicans are saying that’s a bridge too far,” he added. “We’re not opposed to contraceptives; we’re not opposed to IVF. We are opposed to those areas you tucked down.”

IVF was thrust into the national spotlight in recent months in the wake of various landmark court decisions and legislative efforts.

Lankford argued IVF is “protected” across the country, even in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court ruled in February that frozen embryos were children, and those who destroy them can be held liable for their death.

IVF services were mostly halted in the state, though lawmakers quickly passed legislation to address civil and criminal liability for IVF providers, allowing services to resume.

“No one’s threatening it anywhere in the country, and this has become a divisive issue,” he said.

The debate over IVF was ignited in recent weeks on Capitol Hill, where senators introduced competing bills aimed at protecting access to the treatment.

The Right to IVF Act, sponsored by a group of Democratic lawmakers, and the IVF Protection Act, sponsored by a pair of GOP senators, were shot down earlier this month along party lines.

Democrats blocked a unanimous request by Republicans, arguing the GOP bill didn’t go far enough to guarantee IVF access. Republicans shot back a day later, blocking the Democrats’ bill from moving forward.

Lankford co-sponsored a separate bill earlier this month focused on supporting alternatives to IVF by promoting medical services that try to address the causes of infertility among women.

The bill, titled the Reproductive Empowerment and Support through Optimal Restoration Act, or RESTORE Act, appears to be intended to reduce the use of IVF services among people trying to have children.

If passed, the legislation would promote awareness and access to restorative reproductive medicine, defined by the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine as “any scientific approach to reproductive medicine that seeks to cooperate with or restore the normal physiology and anatomy of the human reproductive system.”

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