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Abbott Admits to Knowing Very Little About IVF But Promises Texas Will ‘Address’ the Issue

Even though Gov. Greg Abbott openly admitted he knows very little about in-vitro fertilization (IVF), he signaled he is eager for his state of Texas to put its “pro-life” stamp on the issue after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that IVF embryos are “extrauterine children” and should be treated as people under the law.

Abbott on Sunday appeared on CNN’s State of the Union where host Dana Bash asked if he agreed with the Alabama ruling that embryos are human beings under the law and whether families in Texas should be concerned that IVF would be restricted.

After saying he agreed with former President Donald Trump’s recent statement supporting IVF access, Abbott admitted he knows little about the process. “You raise fact questions that are complex that I simply don’t know the answer to,” he said. “Let me give you a couple of examples. And that is, I have no idea mathematically the number of frozen embryos. Is it one, 10, 100, 1,000? Things like that matter. What I don’t know is, families who may have frozen embryos, what happens if they were done so that a mother could have a pregnancy, but after those embryos were frozen, the mother passes away?… What happens if, after the embryos are frozen, the mother and the husband, they get a divorce?”

“These are very complex issues, where I’m not sure everybody has really thought about what all the potential problems are,” he continued. “And, as a result, no one really knows what the potential answers are.”

When Bash asked whether Texas would pass legislation to “deal with this question and keep IVF legal,” Abbott responded, “I have no doubt that Texas will be among the states that will be addressing this issue when we can bring together all the different fact scenarios about what could happen.”

He added, “As you know, Texas is a pro-life state. And we want to do everything possible that we can to maintain Texas being a pro-life state. But, at the very same time, I think Texans agree with what President Trump said. And that is, we as a state want to ensure that we promote life, we bring more life into the world, and we empower parents to be able to have more children.”

Abbott claimed that he is “not sure everybody has really thought about what all the potential problems are” with IVF, but fertility doctors and their patients have handled the decisions regarding IVF treatments privately — and without federal intervention — for decades.

IVF has existed since the 1970s, and legal restrictions on embryo use is not even a new debate. In the early 2000s when conservatives like then-Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican, called for restrictions on the number of embryos that fertility clinics could produce and a requirement that all embryos created by hopeful parents must be implanted. At the same time, Kentucky legislators proposed limiting in vitro fertilization to only one egg per attempt. Often more than one egg is used to increase the chances of success. That year, another Republican, then-Sen. Rick Santorum, said he supported limiting IVF because clinics create “a lot more human life than would ever be needed for implantation.”

Since Trump’s statement — and with encouragement from a memo by the GOP’s Senate campaign arm — some Republicans have publicly declared support for IVF. But it remains to be seen whether that support extends to allowing families alone to decide what do to with their un-implanted embryos. In a post-Roe America, the potential Republican threat to IVF seems particularly dangerous.

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