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AG Nessel Calls on Congress to Expand Access to Reproductive Health Services

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general this week in urging Congress to pass the Access to Family Building Act, federal legislation to guarantee the right to access assisted reproductive technology (ART) like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) nationwide. ART has provided thousands of people in diverse situations the opportunity to grow their families, including cancer survivors, same-sex couples, people experiencing infertility, or those choosing to parent alone. However, the high cost of procedures and lack of insurance coverage for ART prevent many from accessing these essential services. 

In the wake of a recent Alabama Supreme Court decision that jeopardized essential reproductive health services by classifying frozen embryos used during IVF as people, the coalition of attorneys general argues for strong federal protections, such as the Access to Family Building Act, to expand access to ART and to protect patients’ rights to make their own reproductive health care decisions.  

"Assaults on Americans’ bodily autonomy since the disastrous Dobbs decision have escalated to a frightening degree, and now access to IVF and other forms of assisted reproduction are under threat,” said Nessel. “The Access to Family Building Act will help protect reproductive rights and aid families in accessing assisted reproductive technology, regardless of their financial circumstances. There is a clear and urgent need for federal protections to safeguard these essential services and uphold the rights of individuals to make their own family planning decisions. I stand firmly with my fellow attorneys general in urging Congress to pass this essential legislation.” 

The recent Alabama Supreme Court decision, which determined that embryos should be considered “extrauterine children” and that the destruction of embryos created through IVF is subject to the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, put the practice of IVF in jeopardy in Alabama. Clinics across the state suspended their services immediately following this decision, devastating patients who were in the midst of IVF treatment. This decision threatens ART services nationwide and the right of families to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.  

In the letter sent to Congressional leadership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, AG Nessel and the coalition of attorneys general urge Congress to take proactive steps to protect ART services. ART has allowed thousands of people to build a family. Nearly two percent of all babies born in the U.S. each year are conceived using ART. However, the cost of ART services can be prohibitive, and the insurance policy definitions of “infertility” can be limiting, especially for LGBTQ+ couples. 

The average cost of ART services in the U.S., such as IVF, is approximately $20,000 a cycle, but that number can increase depending on a patient’s medical protocols, or if a patient undergoes multiple cycles. Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws related to insurance coverage, but the terms vary from state to state. Insurance policies can also preclude patient access through varying definitions of infertility or requirements that not all patients meet. The Access to Family Building Act would make ART services more accessible to families of all types by guaranteeing patients the right to ART without prohibition, unreasonable limitation, or interference, encouraging health insurance providers to cover these services, and ensuring that patients have the right to make their own determinations and decisions regarding their reproductive genetic materials. 

ART is critical to families across the country, but barriers persist that prevent many from accessing these services. As the coalition of attorneys general argues in the letter to Congressional leaders, these services are crucial, and in light of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision, are in need of protection. 

Joining AG Nessel in sending this letter to Congress are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. 

A copy of the letter can be accessed here (PDF).


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