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Amid IVF uncertainty, patients and providers talk to Sen. Kaine at Norfolk roundtable

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine poses with attendees during a roundtable in Norfolk Tuesday. (Photo by Laura Philion)
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine poses with attendees during a roundtable in Norfolk Tuesday. (Photo by Laura Philion)

Rachel Maul is on day five of an IVF cycle. In about a week and a half, she’ll go back to her fertility clinic, where nurses will retrieve eggs from her uterus and attempt to fertilize them.

Maul and her husband have been trying to conceive through in-vitro fertilization for two years. They’ve had five egg retrievals.

“This is the way we're going to build our family,” said Maul, who works for the Navy. 

Maul and others attended a roundtable held by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine who is co-sponsoring the Access to Family Building Act in the U.S. Senate. If passed, the bill would enshrine the right to receive fertility treatments like IVF, and the right of doctors to administer them.

Weeks after a controversial Alabama Supreme Court decision — where the court said embryos collected through IVF treatment should be considered children under the law — providers and patients nationwide are left unsure what the future of their fertility treatments will be. 

“It doesn't matter what zip code you're in, doesn't matter what state you're in. You (would) have guaranteed access to seek IVF as a patient and you (would) have guaranteed ability to provide IVF if you're a provider,” Kaine said in Norfolk.

Nationwide, IVF and treatments like it are common. Forty-three percent of Americans say they or someone they know has used fertility treatments. 

Dr. Eric Widra is a fertility specialist based in Washington D.C. and was part of Kaine’s roundtable event.

“The people we’re fighting here really just don't acknowledge the nuance and the facts and the science here. This isn't just ‘every embryo makes a baby.’ This is a lot of work, a lot of heartache and a lot of resources to bring this technology to people, and change their lives,” he said.

Maul said it was painful to see women in Alabama stopping fertility treatments mid-cycle. She knows firsthand how expensive and emotional the process is.

“We want to have children. We want to have a family. IVF is the best case for us to build a family. And so protecting access to that is so important to me,” she said.

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