Opinion: GOP still flat-footed on abortion

For years, Republicans called for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. There were countless court fights and pitched battles in Congress and state legislatures.

But while the GOP finally won that ruling in 2022 — they didn’t seem ready for what came next.

We saw yet another example of that recently in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court issued a decision that resulted in some in vitro fertilization (IVF) facilities halting their operations due to legal concerns.

While Republicans appeared paralyzed — saying almost nothing about it for days —Democrats eagerly rolled out new plans in Congress to make sure IVF has legal protections in every state.

“The campaign by extremists to ban IVF would deny countless families the blessing and responsibility of parenthood,” said Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

The IVF mess in Alabama is certain to become a central campaign pitch for Democrats this year as well.

“We’re fighting for the freedom of women, for families, and for doctors who care for these women,” said President Biden, who called the Alabama situation ‘outrageous.’

Biden dispatched Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to Birmingham this week, joining his party’s chorus of outrage.

“It’s gone from taking away a woman’s right to choose to stopping couples desperately trying to have children through fertility treatments,” said Becerra.

“The recent IVF ruling is already having devastating consequences for Alabama families who are simply trying to have children,” added U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala.

What was most notable on Capitol Hill was the radio silence of Republicans about the IVF situation — until former President Donald Trump finally signaled his concerns.

That was a bit ironic for Democrats.

“The Alabama Supreme Court ruling is a direct result of Donald Trump’s promise to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, who did IVF treatments for several years to have children.

While many Republicans remain opposed to abortion, blocking access to fertility treatments was too much for some GOP lawmakers.

“I’d have several fewer grandkids if we didn’t have IVF,” said a smiling U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has 25 grandchildren.

Maybe the craziest GOP take came from the Heritage Foundation, once a vaunted home to conservative thought and policy ideas in Washington, D.C.

“IVF Legislation Would Open Door to Abusers Creating Kids,” a Heritage email bellowed.

The GOP dog caught the car with the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Almost two years later, Republicans still don’t seem to know what to do — while Democrats plan to put the issue of abortion on the ballot in November.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com