Alabama I.V.F. Ruling Opens New Front in Election-Year Abortion Battles

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling, that frozen embryos should be considered children, has created a new political nightmare for Republicans nationally, who distanced themselves from a fringe view about reproductive health that threatened to drive away voters in November.

Several Republican governors and lawmakers swiftly disavowed the decision, made by a Republican-majority court, expressing support for in vitro fertilization treatments. Some spoke out about their personal experiences with infertility. Others declared they would not support federal restrictions on I.V.F., drawing a distinction between their support for broadly popular fertility treatments and their opposition to abortion.

“The concern for years has been that I.V.F. would be taken away from women everywhere,” Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, said in an interview on Thursday. “We need to do everything we can to protect women’s access in every state to I.V.F.”

Yet, even as some Republicans backed away from the court decision, Republican legislators in conservative states planned efforts to push bills that would declare that life begins at conception — a policy that could have severe consequences for fertility treatments.

Others acted to protect I.V.F. treatments. Tim Melson, a Republican state senator in Alabama, said he planned to introduce legislation clarifying that embryos are not viable until they are implanted in a woman’s uterus.

The division was a new twist on a familiar problem for the party. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump, have tried to avoid the issue of abortion and reframe their proposals — like a 15-week federal ban — as common-sense policies that can appeal to moderate voters.

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