Lankford Objects to Bill with Dangerously Broad Definitions that Allows Human Cloning, Embryo Discrimination, and Much More


View the video here or download it here.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) objected on the Senate floor to S. 2801 the Veterans Families Health Services Act of 2023 because it included overly broad definitions that would have left the door open for human cloning, gene editing, sex or disability based discrimination against embryos, and expanding IVF access beyond biological women. Lankford is pro-life and supportive of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).


I, like most Americans, have friends, and have loved ones, who have children that were born through IVF. I’m passionate about the value of every single child and grateful for every single child that we have in our nation and for their potential future. I have friends that are in the process right now of actually adopting embryos that were still frozen that they could not have children of their own and so they’re adopting those embryos to make sure that they’re able to come to life. IVF is not a controversial issue for me in that sense. We’re passionate about it as every state now protects that right and continues to be able to honor this. I understand it’s become vogue in this current season right now to be able to say, ‘Republicans are somehow opposed to life because they’re opposed to IVF.’ I just don’t find that. But within this bill that’s actually coming, this bill actually part of it came through the Senate Armed Services Committee. That bill itself, when it came through, it’s substantially similar to that, it tried to come through the NDAA and was not included in the NDAA. It had an objection. CBO scored it somewhere around a billion dollars a year.

Now this bill itself I understand doesn’t have a CBO score because it includes not only that section that was a billion dollars a year but it actually includes another section that has not gone through the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. In fact, it was brought up in a previous Congress and the Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs didn’t have a hearing on it nor a markup and then during a Democrat led Senate and then a Democrat led Senate as well didn’t even, recently, this session, even have a markup on it. So, in all of these issues I look at and say, ‘This has not been fully vetted through what this actually is and what it actually does nor the cost of it—much less to be able to have 24-hours later it try to come for unanimous consent.’

This bill itself includes some overly broad definitions that I think need some conversation about. Quite frankly we in the Senate, this is what we’re supposed to do. It includes things like assisted reproductive technology, fertility treatments, it leaves the door open for future definitions for gene editing or for cloning and leaves those to the discretion of the Secretary—whoever the secretary may be in the future. The bill’s definition of infertility includes the inability to reproduce or safely can carry a pregnancy to term. It’s a very broad term trying to be able to figure out what that means. Obviously, that means everyone who’s not a woman as well would be included in that. The bill also expands the eligibility to partners who do not have to be TRICARE beneficiaries. This would be the first time that DOD would be required to provide medical care to someone who’s not otherwise entitled by virtue of their relationship to the military in other ways.

This breaks new ground in that area so there’s not only issues of questions of definitions and such but there’s also just definition of cost or working through the committee process through committees that have so far either not passed it or have refused to even have a markup or a hearing on it. So, I don’t think it’s good for us to be able to bring this for unanimous consent to be able to move at this time.

Let’s move it through in a broader conversation but I would also encourage it just as a body, I don’t find Republicans that are just broadly opposed to IVF, and I know this is a broad part of the conversation right now to leave that implication after what happened in Alabama. But I am a Republican that’s passionate about the value of every single child that also doesn’t have an issue with IVF. I’m grateful to know people that have gone through the process and know their kids and know the value of every single one of those children. So for the sake of honoring life and for the sake of honoring obviously what we do as a Senate and how we function together for those reasons, Mr. President, I object.