blue and orange image of the Capitol building with text "Project 2025"
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Inside Project 2025's attack on reproductive rights: IVF

At least 22 partner organizations of Project 2025, a coalition of over 100 conservative groups looking to staff the next potential administration of former President Donald Trump, have publicly criticized in vitro fertilization, according to a Media Matters review.

Project 2025 is organized by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, and has laid out a radical plan for governance during a second Trump term. The initiative's wide-ranging policy proposals are laid out in its “Mandate for Leadership,” a staunchly anti-choice document. Although the Mandate itself doesn’t mention IVF, Heritage has published several pieces opposing the procedure and celebrated a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that extended de facto personhood rights to frozen embryos, severely curtailing access to IVF. After abrupt political backlash, Alabama’s governor passed a law protecting IVF providers from legal liability, which some Project 2025 partner organizations have criticized for rendering the original “fetal personhood” ruling moot.

The organizations and individuals associated with Project 2025 who oppose IVF have raised various objections, none of which are scientifically or medically sound. Some opponents, for example, have elided the difference between the legal definition of “viable” — like that used by Louisiana, which has the most restrictive anti-IVF laws in the country — and the medical definition. Louisiana allows IVF but prohibits the destruction of embryos, forcing fertility clinics to ship them to other states for storage. These organizations will often point out that despite this law, Louisiana has more babies born through IVF than Alabama, though they fail to mention that both states have some of the lowest rates of IVF births in the country.

Similarly, some partner organizations have suggested following European countries' leads in regulating IVF, several of them naming Italy as a suitable example. Italy once had laws classifying embryos as living people and severely regulating IVF procedures; all of them were repealed after IVF became more difficult to access and less likely to succeed.

Other Project 2025 associates have argued that IVF is a form of eugenics or that it will lead to cloning or extreme forms of genetic modification and experimentation. Still others have baselessly claimed that IVF is underregulated, ignoring the multiple federal and state guidelines and licensing requirements that providers must meet. 

For the full report on Project 2025's attack on reproductive rights, click here.

  • The Heritage Foundation

    • In a post to X, The Heritage Foundation appeared to express support for the Alabama IVF ruling, writing, “FACT: The Alabama Supreme Court decision does not threaten access to IVF,” and claiming that the decision “reassures parents” that frozen embryos will be safer. [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]
    • Senior legal fellow Thomas Jipping wrote that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on embryos that imperiled IVF “got it right” and further suggested that abortion should not be legal. Jipping also denied the ruling is “an attack on IVF technology itself ... or could have revolutionary ripple effects,” belittling “the media, politicians, and activists” who discussed the ruling’s consequences. He concluded that while this case was about destroyed embryos, “causing the death of an unborn child by abortion is legal [in] more than half of the United States.” [The Heritage Foundation, 4/2/24]
    • The Heritage Foundation's Emma Waters has written extensively against assisted reproductive technologies, particularly IVF and surrogacy. Her opposition draws on unsubstantiated concerns about possible harms to children who lack access to both biological parents and on biblical teaching about proper procreation. [Media Matters, 3/1/24, 4/2/24

    • In a March article titled “Why the IVF Industry Must Be Regulated,” Waters laid out policy recommendations that would impose heavy medical restrictions on IVF and make the procedure more difficult for couples to access and harder for facilities to perform. [Media Matters, 3/19/24]

    • In an article describing her biblical reasoning for not supporting IVF, Waters argued that it is important for Protestants specifically to “take a firm and authoritative stance on reproductive technology” because “Protestants necessarily hold a central place in America’s political and institutional life.” [The Heritage Foundation, 1/24/24]

    • Waters celebrated the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on IVF, calling it “an unqualified victory” and claiming “parents should be grateful that their embryos will receive greater protection.” In another piece on the ruling, Waters suggested states adopt stricter laws around IVF procedures, like those that exist in some European countries. [The Heritage Foundation, 2/27/24, 2/28/24]

    • In a 2023 article, Waters complained about a California bill that would allow single parents or same-sex couples to access IVF through their health care service plans, stating, “No amount of technology or health insurance coverage can alter God’s created order.” She also claimed that allowing more widespread use of IVF procedures would create a “human trafficking market.” [The Heritage Foundation, 6/20/23]

    • Waters repeated her complaints about LGBTQ couples using IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies in another article titled “Radical ‘Right to Build Families Act’ Would Unleash IVF and Commercial Surrogacy.” In the article, Waters claimed that “the pro-abortion and the LGBTQ coalitions” are pushing assisted reproductive technologies, writing that both coalitions “have been quite hostile to the rights of children and the unborn.” [The Heritage Foundation, 1/13/23]

  • Alabama Policy Institute

    • In an interview with the Family Policy Alliance, Alabama Policy Institute president and CEO Stephanie Smith claimed, “The Alabama Supreme Court ruled — correctly, in our opinion — that those embryos were children and should be treated as children under our wrongful death statutes.” Referencing Louisiana’s strict IVF laws, she went on to suggest new parameters that would make the treatment more difficult to receive. [YouTube, 2/29/24, 2/29/24]

    • API released a joint statement with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America criticizing Alabama’s stop-gap measure to protect providers of IVF from criminal charges. The statement said, “It is unacceptable the Alabama Legislature has advanced a bill that falls short of pro-life expectations and fails to respect the dignity of human life.” [The New York Times, 2/28/24]

  • Alliance Defending Freedom

    • In an article titled, “In IVF case, Alabama Supreme Court protects life from conception,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Denise Burke claimed the Alabama ruling was “a victory for life and the rights of parents.” Burke argued, “Cases like this one demonstrate that being pro-life entails more than just protecting unborn children from abortion.” [Alliance Defending Freedom, 3/18/24]

    • In a statement, Burke called the Alabama ruling “a tremendous victory” for “unborn children created through assisted reproductive technology.” [The New York Times, 2/22/24]

  • The American Conservative

    • An article in the American Conservative by contributor Carmel Richardson claimed IVF is helping the “LGBT movement” distort the meaning of family. Richardson wrote, “To limit the baby-making industry is to give hard answers to those who would like a chicken in every pot and a baby in every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender arm.” Richardson later disparaged IVF for allowing even a “transgender pedophile” to have a child. [The American Conservative, 3/1/24]

    • Contributor Christopher Brunet argued in a piece titled, “A personal IVF story” that he “should be allowed to condemn IVF” because “while one may born as the result of a rape, for example, it does not mean that they can’t condemn rape.” Brunet called IVF “the hope and despair of professional women in middle management” and “propaganda against nature, persuading a generation of collegiate women that they're not losing fertility every day after they turn 20.” Brunet also admonished Republicans for caving to pressure to support IVF, writing, “Just as there is now no going back on IVF, there is also no going back on gay marriage, civil rights, demographic replacement.” [The American Conservative, 2/28/24]

    • Them Before Us President Katy Faust published a story in The American Conservative titled “Alabama sets the stage for a Supreme Court fight over IVF,” in which she praised the Alabama ruling and claimed Louisiana has similar guidelines about embryos. Faust claimed these laws “protect children from their rampant destruction at the hands of #BigFertility” and called on conservatives to “not only challenge the baby-taking industry, but the baby-making industry.” [The American Conservative, 2/24/24]

  • American Family Association

    • In a call to action against Mississippi’s “anti-life” bill HB 1688, American Family Association claimed the bill would grant an “unrestricted right to destroy unborn children” through procedures such as IVF. The organization called it a “very bad amendment” and asked readers to contact their local lawmakers about the bill. HB 1688 would protect the right to assisted reproductive procedures in Mississippi. [American Family Association, 3/8/24; Mississippi Today, 3/7/24]

    • In a second call to action against Mississippi’s HB 1688, AFA Vice President Walker Wildmon stated that the bill “creates an unrestricted right to destroy unborn children as part of very broadly defined ‘treatments or procedures.’” [American Family Association, 3/11/24]

    • On his podcast At The Core, Wildmon claimed, “The ruling in Alabama had to do with wasting embryos, or dumping embryos or discarding” and went on to state “eyes are being opened to how much of a disregard as a culture we’ve had for babies with this IVF discussion.” [American Family Radio, At The Core, 2/28/24]

    • In a Facebook live panel hosted by AFA about the Alabama IVF ruling, Wildmon claimed, “An embryo is a baby,” and stated, “IVF is not being threatened here.” [Facebook, American Family Association Action, 3/1/24]

  • American Principles Project

    • American Principles Project President Terry Schilling tweeted about IVF: “If America isn’t careful, we could actually create a government backed institution of buying and selling human beings. Which, I thought, we decided long ago was wrong.” American Principles Project previously tweeted a statement by Schilling where he told Republicans to “come up with reasonable policy” and that “they should come up with what they actually believe and support and stand for.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24, 2/27/24]

  • Americans United for Life

    • In a February statement posted to its website, Americans United for Life praised Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) for blocking legislation that would protect the right to reproductive treatments. The statement claimed that “embryonic children are typically treated as property rather than persons” and that there is a “near-total lack of patient health and safety regulations and meaningful regulatory oversight” in the IVF industry. [Americans United for Life, 2/28/24]

    • Chief legal counsel for AUL Steve Aden spoke with The Washington Post, criticizing Trump’s statement about IVF treatments and stating that “the ethical approach to IVF is to ensure that human lives are not wantonly created and destroyed in the process.” The Post also highlights the “model legislation to limit the number of embryos created per IVF cycle” that AUL previously drafted. [The Washington Post, 2/24/24]

    • In 2022, Aden compared IVF treatments to “eugenics,” telling The Guardian he considers “most” kinds of IVF “untenable in a culture that respects all human life.” [The Guardian, 5/12/22]

  • AMAC Action

    • In a piece on the Association of Mature American Citizens Action website, author John Moor suggested giving the Alabama Supreme Court credit for “having the courage” to make the ruling limiting IVF. He went on to compare a “preborn child” to people who “fall under a government protected characteristic,” claiming the government protects individuals from discrimination “based on age, mental capacity and appearance like skin color” and therefore should protect embryos as well. [AMAC Action, 3/18/24]

  • California Family Council

    • On Instagram, the California Family Council claimed, “By the numbers the IVF Industry is responsible for the loss of more embryonic life every year than the abortion industry.” [Instagram, 3/6/24]

    • In a statement on its website, the CFC claimed there are “grave moral concerns inherent to IVF,” and, “We cannot ignore the plight of our embryonic brothers and sisters.” The statement heavily doubled down on the idea that embryos are humans and advocated for the adoption of laws like those regulating IVF in Louisiana and countries like Germany, Italy, France, Poland, New Zealand, and Australia. [California Family Council, 3/8/24]

    • In 2023, CFC attacked a California bill it claimed “would require employers to provide insurance plans that cover all nonexperimental fertility treatments, including … for a surrogate hired by any couple or single person.” The CFC statement criticized the bill for expanding fertility treatments to include LGBTQ families, stating, “Children have the natural right to their biological father and mother, and they suffer tremendously in every area of life when this right is infringed upon.” [California Family Council, 6/19/23]

  • Concerned Women for America

    • Valerie Bynog, a legislative strategist for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, wrote in a blog on the organization’s website, “An embryo … is a living being.” Bynog criticized the American IVF industry for not having laws like “many European countries” that have “common sense regulations” around IVF. [Concerned Women for America, 2/29/24]

  • Discovery Institute

    • Discovery Institute Chair and Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith wrote in 2017 that IVF is lacking the “moralistic restriction” of only being used by infertile married couples, and referred to the treatment as “positive eugenics.” [Discovery Institute, 10/27/17]

    • Smith previously wrote in 2013 that IVF opens the door for “polyamorous threesomes or lesbian couples” to have children and claimed it must be stopped. He also claimed, “We already know that children born via IVF have poorer health outcomes than children conceived naturally,” and compared IVF treatments to cloning animals. [Discovery Institute, 9/26/13]

  • Eagle Forum

    • In a statement on its website, Eagle Forum claimed, “Other states and countries are performing IVF in ethical ways,” referencing Louisiana and European countries, and claimed Louisiana’s IVF regulations “clearly haven’t deterred fertility clinics.” The statement attacked Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) Access to Family Building Act, saying it expands reproductive protections too widely to include “not only IVF, but cloning, gene editing, experimentation on embryos, commercial surrogacy, ‘designer babies’, and more,” and that it removes “religious conscience protections” around IVF. [Eagle Forum, 2/29/24]

    • Appearing as a guest on a Facebook live panel hosted by the American Family Association, Eagle Forum executive director Becky Gerritson claimed the Alabama ruling “did not stop IVF, it did not regulate IVF” and told the panel that Eagle Forum is “promoting and pushing” more regulation of the IVF industry. [Facebook, American Family Association Action, 3/1/24

  • Ethics and Public Policy Center

    • The Ethics and Public Policy Center published a piece on its website by fellow Patrick Brown in which he claimed that Republicans are making “a mistake” by criticizing the Alabama ruling and called for Republicans to refuse “broad progressive legislation that would make access to IVF an ‘individual right.’” Brown pushed back on calls for IVF to be an individual right, claiming that it has “weakened” the “family as an institution,” and suggested policy that would cover IVF for only “legally married couples using their own sperm and egg.” He also called the Alabama ruling a “modest” case against IVF. [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 3/2/24]

    • EPPC President Ryan Anderson published a piece titled, “The truth about Alabama’s ruling on IVF” wherein he claimed that “the media … falsely claimed IVF was about to be banned— and Republicans fell for the claim.” Anderson’s whole piece referred to IVF embryos as “frozen embryonic children” and called IVF “morally and emotionally fraught.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2/28/24]

    • EPPC fellow Andrew Walker criticized Christians and pro-life Americans for not having a stronger stance against IVF. He called IVF “morally problematic” for taking sexual intercourse out of conception, breaking a “holy and inviolable seal,” and for creating embryos that won’t be used, claiming, “In Christian language, these embryos are our neighbors.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2/28/24]

    • EPPC fellow Aaron Kheriaty wrote a piece for Newsweek titled “After Alabama ruling, it's time for a serious look at the ethics of the IVF industry,” in which he claimed that “there is no morally just solution” for modern IVF treatments. [Newsweek, 2/29/24]

  • Family Policy Alliance

    • In a Family Policy Alliance podcast, Director of Public Policy Joseph Kohm stated, “Each of those fertilized embryos that are frozen is a unique human life,” before praising the Alabama Supreme Court for addressing the issue of IVF. [YouTube, 2/29/24]

  • Family Research Council

    • Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Associated Press that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision was “a beautiful defense of life.” [The Associated Press, 2/23/24]

    • On X, Perkins asserted that Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) bill protecting reproductive services was “an overreach designed to advance the Democrats’ radical, Frankensteinian agenda.” He also claimed the bill would legalize “creation of animal-human hybrids (‘chimeras’)” and “trafficking and destruction of human embryos.” In a later post, Perkins pushed for more “IVF safeguards.” [Twitter/X, 2/28/24, 2/28/24

    • On his podcast, Washington Watch, Perkins claimed Duckworth’s bill “raises numerous moral and bioethical issues that go far beyond ensuring the IVF issue” and again claimed it would allow the creation of human-animal hybrids. [YouTube, Washington Watch, 2/28/24]

  • Independent Women’s Forum

    • On the Independent Women’s Forum’s She Thinks Podcast, Natural Womanhood editor Grace Emily Stark argued that “all across the board people, even medical professionals, have this really inflated idea of how successful IVF is that does not match reality.” [Independent Women’s Forum, She Thinks Podcast, 2/17/23]

    • On the High Noon podcast, IWF senior fellow Emily Jashinsky argued, “The pro-life movement should lead with the reality that there is a way for IVF to be done ethically where you’re not discarding embryos.” Later, host Inez Stepman asked: “Do we really want to live in a world where we’re eugenically selecting babies, where we are commodifying the act of pregnancy?” [Independent Women’s Forum, High Noon, 2/28/24

    • IWF cross-posted an article originally written for Fox News by IWF visiting fellow Emma Waters, warning that “AI will fuel disturbing ‘build-a-child’ industry.” Waters claimed: “Seventy-five percent of IVF clinics in the U.S. offer genetic testing. This allows parents to create multiple embryos and select the one that matches their preferred sex and eye, hair, and skin color.” She added: “They can also gauge if a child will develop certain health problems. In one controversial case, deaf parents tried to create a child who would inherit their deafness. Of course, clinics destroy the unwanted embryos.” [Independent Women’s Forum, 8/4/23]

  • Dr. James Dobson Family Institute

    • In a Q&A post on the Dobson Digital Library, James Dobson declared that he is “strongly opposed to the practice of creating fertilized eggs from ‘donors’ outside the immediate family (this would include the donation of sperm or eggs from a brother or sister of the husband and wife wishing to conceive),” because such activity would be to “play God.” Dobson added that IVF is “less problematic” if “all the fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus (i.e., no ova are wasted or disposed of after fertilization.” He also argued that implanting an already existing frozen embryo is akin to “adoption.” [Dobson Digital Library, accessed 4/2/24]

  • Liberty University

    • Liberty University posted a summary of a law school panel discussion on reproductive rights after the Dobbs decision, highlighting comments from The Justice Foundation’s Allan Parker on “how to advance that victory [Dobbs] by abolishing in vitro fertilization to protect frozen eggs that have already been fertilized, which he explained is an expansion of the idea that life begins at conception.” Parker said: “I think we need more scholarly research and more public education (on this topic) before the Supreme Court is willing to accept the argument that the right to life under the constitution protects life from the moment of conception.” He added, “It takes time to change culture. But we need to do the historical research, get the education about it to where the judges, based on the appropriate case with the appropriate evidence, will be comfortable making that judicial determination.” [Liberty University, 2/14/24]

  • Media Research Center

    • Media Research Center’s Tierin-Rose Mandelburg responded to the Alabama Supreme Court decision in a blog post, writing, “This is a good thing. Regardless of whether a child is conceived naturally or by artificial implantation, that child has value and has sanctity and deserves to be treated as such. Throwing embryos away should be considered murder, as, now in Alabama, it is.” Mandelburg’s blog began with the line, “Sweet Home Alabama just got even sweeter for babies.” [NewsBusters, 2/19/24]

    • Media Research Center’s Jorge Bonilla argued that the mainstream media’s response to Alabama’s ruling was disingenuous and simply a cover to advocate for abortion rights, writing, “The panic point for the media is the Court’s grant of personhood to human embryos.” “Such a finding, were it to be upheld by the United States Supreme Court, drives a dagger into efforts to codify Roe,” he continued. He later added: “Personhood, even if not uttered out loud, is the whole ball game and the media know it. It’s hard to imagine the liberal media caring too much about IVF except that these stories enable advocacy for a Roe restoration. Personhood gets in the way of that.” [NewsBusters, 2/23/24]

  • Mississippi Center for Public Policy

    • Similar to the Heritage Foundation, the Mississippi Center for Public Policy argued more than a decade ago in support of a proposed “personhood amendment” to the state’s constitution, claiming it was “unlikely” to “be used to justify a ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF).” MCPP added: “IVF procedures can be performed without destroying human embryos, and therefore would still be permissible under Initiative 26. As is currently being done in many cases, any excess embryos not implanted in the womb could be frozen and implanted later or adopted out to other parents.” [Mississippi Center for Public Policy, 11/3/11]

  • Students for Life of America

    • Students for Life of America argued that a “consistent, intellectually-honest stance holds that human life begins at conception/fertilization,” and views discarding embryos as “a human rights violation,” claiming that the current process of IVF encourages “targeted killing” based on “undesirable traits” and “leads to eugenics.” [Students for Life of America, 1/27/22, 4/21/22, 2/23/24]

    • In a blog post, Students for Life of America prepared supporters to discuss IVF by raising the argument that “more die from IVF than abortion.” [Students for Life America, 2/23/24]

  • Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America

    • Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has advocated against federal bills drafted to protect IVF after the Alabama ruling. SBA Pro-Life America argued against Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) non-binding resolution that states “strong support” for IVF, arguing that it “leaves no room for reasonable laws like the one in Louisiana that for decades has protected human embryos while also allowing IVF.” The organization also heavily criticized Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) bill, saying it “would even codify a right to human cloning and genetic engineering of human embryos.” [Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, 2/28/24, POLITICO, 2/27/24]

  • Turning Point USA

    • Turning Point USA’s Alex Clark, who frequently criticizes fertility care and birth control, has written about her changing stance on IVF, concluding in 2022 that IVF is not “really any different than an early abortion.” [Turning Point USA, 8/11/22, 8/29/22; Media Matters, 6/11/23, 2/14/23]