Mike Johnson says Congress won’t deal with key IVF question

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Thursday that Congress would not address a key question surrounding in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the wake of a controversial Alabama Supreme Court ruling on embryos.

“CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil pressed Johnson on whether he would see destroying embryos as “murder,” noting that Alabama recently passed legislation to protect IVF providers from the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are to be considered people.

While Johnson said he supported access to IVF, he sidestepped the question on whether he would see disposing or destroying embryos as murder. He noted that it is “something that we’ve got to grapple with.”

“In some states, like in Louisiana, there’s a limit on the number of embryos that can be created because they’re sensitive to that issue,” he said. “But it’s something that every state has to wrestle with, and I think Alabama has done a good job of it, of hitting it head-on early.”

Dokoupil pushed Johnson further on the topic, saying that a key question surrounding IVF and embryos is still not answered. He asked Johnson to clarify whether disposing of an embryo is considered a death “if life begins at fertilization and embryo is fertilization.”

Johnson then said Congress would not be taking up that question.

“I think policymakers have to determine how to handle that. We need to look at the ethics surrounding that issue, but it’s an important one,” Johnson said.

“If you do believe that life begins at conception, it’s a really important question to wrestle with. It’s not one Congress has dealt with, and it won’t be. I think it’s a states issue, and states will have to be handling it,” he later added.

The White House hit back at Johnson for his remarks on Thursday.

“Tonight President Biden will stress to the country whose side he’s on, and congressional Republicans are already helping him make that case. Speaker Johnson just said on live TV that we have to ‘grapple with’ the idea that IVF is murder,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.

The White House has accused Republicans of “attempting to erase their own records” on IVF and pointed to the Republican-led Life at Conception Act as a reason.

Johnson had co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which defines a human being as “each member of the species Homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization or cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” The proposal also calls for equal protection under the 14th Amendment for “each born and preborn human person.”

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