Donald Trump Has Deep Ties To Anti-IVF Movement

Like many Republicans, the former president's words of support don’t align with his past actions on in vitro fertilization.
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Donald Trump was one of the first Republicans last month to condemn the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that granted embryos the same legal status as children ― threatening access to in vitro fertilization throughout the state.

The former president claimed he “strongly” supports the availability of IVF, adding in a spirited Truth Social post that “the Republican Party should always be on the side of the Miracle of Life.” His statement came as Republicans found themselves scrambling to distance themselves from the Alabama ruling in the wake of national outrage over its sweeping effects. It makes sense: Access to IVF is an issue that more than 80% of Americans support, including a majority of Republican voters. Even longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway agrees.

But, like many Republicans, Trump’s words of support don’t align with his past actions on IVF. The current Republican presidential nominee ― who has repeatedly bragged about his role in repealing federal abortion protections ― has deep ties to extreme right-wing organizations that actively oppose IVF.

While in the White House, Trump and his administration praised, appointed and worked with some of the nation’s most extreme thought leaders who believe the IVF process is akin to murder. Trump hosted the Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the IVF ruling twice: once during his 2016 campaign and in 2018 at the White House. (This is the same chief justice who recently appeared on a QAnon conspiracist’s show.)

Trump did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

The former president also met multiple times while in office with Lila Rose, president and founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, who recently said she was “proud” of the Alabama Supreme Court for acknowledging that “a baby conceived via IVF should have the same legal protections as a baby conceived naturally.” Rose’s Live Action, which advocates that life begins at fertilization, likened Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signing IVF protections into law as giving doctors a “license to kill.”

Trump praised Rose as someone he’s watched “with great admiration” when he introduced her during a 2019 White House summit on abortion.

During his time as president, Trump appointed several extreme anti-IVF advocates to positions of power, including Tim Wildmon, who served on the Trump administration’s faith advisory council. Wildmon is the president of the American Family Association, an extreme anti-abortion organization that just last week opposed a Mississippi bill aimed at protecting IVF because it would open the door to “procedures like human cloning, designer babies, three-parent babies and even human-animal hybrids.”

He also appointed a woman who spent much of her career attacking assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF and surrogacy, to a lifetime federal judicial appointment. Sarah Pitlyk, who was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, wrote in multiple rulings that states should treat embryos as humans. Trump put Pitlyk on a shortlist of Supreme Court justice picks. The job went to Amy Coney Barrett, who publicly supported an anti-abortion group that believes IVF should be criminalized.

As president, Trump proposed a new faith-based rule that would allow health care workers to refuse to care for patients based on moral or religious beliefs. Many progressive organizations quickly filed lawsuits, claiming that the rule would give the go-ahead to medical workers to refuse IVF to single women and LGBTQ+ people.

“The Denial-of-Care rule is not the result of carelessness. It was designed to invite discrimination and intimidate providers into dropping services the Trump administration disagrees with,” James R. Williams, the counsel for Santa Clara County in Northern California, said after filing for a preliminary injunction to the rule.

Trump has not endorsed any IVF protections on the national or state level. And despite Republican claims of supporting IVF access, they blocked Democrats’ attempt to pass legislation to safeguard fertility treatments on the federal level.

Abortion rights advocates have warned that the anti-choice movement would come for IVF and fertility treatments once Roe v. Wade fell. Currently, more than a dozen states are considering laws that would enshrine fetal personhood, threatening IVF and other fertility treatments.

Not all anti-abortion groups oppose IVF; it’s mainly an extreme subsection of the anti-choice movement that believes life begins at fertilization. But Trump has given power to that extreme religious subsection in order to win the presidency in November.

Trump, who is currently trailing President Joe Biden in polls on the 2024 election by just 1 percentage point ― is reportedly considering a national 16-week abortion ban. A national ban would go hand-in-hand with recent reports that Trump allies plan to infuse Christian nationalist beliefs into his administration if elected ― including attacks on same-sex marriage and restrictions on birth control.

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