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Trump expresses support for IVF as he calls on Alabama to find solution to issue that has GOP scrambling

Former President Donald Trump said Friday that he supports women having access to in vitro fertilization in response to the Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF ruling and called on Alabama lawmakers to “act quickly to find an immediate solution” to keep the procedure available in the state.

With his remarks, Trump joins a swirl of Republicans moving to distance themselves from the Alabama court’s finding that that frozen embryos are children under state law and that those who destroy them can be held to blame for wrongful death. The ruling has exposed how much the landscape for reproductive rights has shifted since the overturning of Roe v. Wade and highlights what is likely to become a key campaign issue this year with control of Congress and the White House on the line.

Republican candidates and lawmakers alike have at times struggled in their reactions to the ruling while stressing their support for access to IVF treatment.

Trump offered his first reaction to the decision on Friday, initially on social media and then at campaign rally in South Carolina.

“Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, including the vast majority of Republican conservatives, Christians and pro-life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious little beautiful baby. I support it,” the former president said in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“And today I’m calling on the Alabama legislature to act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama. And I’m sure they’re going to do that,” he added.

His comments echo those of GOP primary rival Nikki Haley, who said Thursday that she disagreed with the ruling and felt Alabama may need to “go back and look at the law.”

In a memo Friday, the campaign arm of the Senate GOP urged candidates to “clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF,” citing strong public support for IVF access. Alabama’s Republican attorney general also said through his chief counsel he had no intention of using the state Supreme Court decision “as a basis for prosecuting IVF families or providers.” And bipartisan effort is now underway in the Alabama Legislature to draft “clarifying” legislation that would “protect” IVF treatments, state legislative sources told CNN.

But led by President Joe Biden, Democrats have pounced on the Alabama decision, tying it to the US Supreme Court’s elimination of federal abortion protections in 2022. Trump himself has repeatedly touted that as president he nominated three high court justices who went on to support the overturning of the landmark abortion law.

“Alabama families losing access to IVF is a direct result of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices overturning Roe v. Wade,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement Friday. “Trump is responsible for 20 plus abortion bans, restrictions on women’s ability to decide if and when to grow a family, and attacks on contraception. He proudly overturned Roe, and brags about it on the campaign trail — as recently as last night.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a vulnerable Democrat up for reelection this year, linked the Alabama ruling to the Republican primary candidates looking to challenge him in November.

“Women should have the ability and right to have a family on their own terms and that includes having access to fertility treatments like IVF,” Brown said in a statement on Friday, before referring to GOP opposition to an amendment that enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution last year. “Bernie Moreno, Frank LaRose, and Matt Dolan have already made their position on this issue clear: they opposed Issue 1 and now want to overrule the majority of Ohioans who supported it - no memo from Mitch McConnell can change that.”

In contrast, vulnerable Republican incumbents and swing-state candidates have been aggressively trying to get ahead of the Democratic attacks.

Dave McCormick, a Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, wrote on social media that “IVF is a ray of hope for millions of American seeking the blessing of children” and said he opposed “any effort to restrict it.” California Rep. Michelle Steel, who represents a district carried by Biden, said on social media that “there is nothing more pro-life than helping families have children, and I do not support federal restrictions on IVF.”

The landmark ruling from Alabama sent shockwaves across the country and also further magnified the high stakes of the abortion debate that has gripped American politics since Roe was overturned. The US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision put the issue of abortion in the hands of the states and sparked an immediate rush by conservative leaders to pass or enforce existing, but previously dormant, laws banning abortion early on in almost all pregnancies.

The backlash against the fall of Roe was almost instantaneous and cut across party lines. First, red-state Kansas voted overwhelmingly to reject an amendment that would have allowed state lawmakers to ban the procedure. From there, in similar ballot measures and in elections that Democrats have sought to turn into de facto referenda on abortion rights, abortion opponents have consistently lost.

Some GOP leaders have urged candidates to tailor their message on reproductive care to their specific races. Ronna McDaniel, the outgoing chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, has repeatedly called on Republicans to address the subject head on.

“Communication on this issue is going to come down to each and every individual candidate and their campaign and their decision to get in front of the voter,” McDaniel said on her “Real America” podcast in January.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Kristen Holmes, Gregory Krieg and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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