Roaming billboard targets Rep. Schweikert’s votes that ‘could outlaw IVF’

Photo courtesy MobileIMPACT

By Camaron Stevenson

April 11, 2024

Arizonans from Phoenix to Fountain Hills had their usual view of palm trees and blue skies obscured Wednesday by a reminder that their congressional representative’s voting on family planning was not as idyllic as their landscapes.

A mobile billboard paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) with the words, “David Schweikert supported a bill that could outlaw IVF Nationwide,” drove the streets of Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, parking outside of iconic local landmarks like Drunk Monk and the World Famous Fountain.

“House Republicans will stop at nothing,” said DCCC spokesperson Lauryn Fanguen. “To reach their ultimate goal: banning abortion and restricting reproductive rights nationwide. We will not let Americans forget.”

While US Rep. David Schweikert has stated his support for IVF and said he would “oppose any effort to restrict it,” his voting record contradicts his public statements. Schweikert voted in favor of the Life at Conception Act five times since 2011, and cosponsored it in 2021. If passed this proposal would enact a nationwide abortion ban, which in turn would open fertilization clinics up to wrongful death lawsuits.

More recently, the Republican Study Committee, of which Arizona US Reps. Schweikert, Juan Ciscomani, Paul Gosar, and Debbie Lesko are members, proposed a federal budget that included the Life at Conception Act.

Schweikert’s campaign did not respond to The Copper Courier’s request for comment, but the congressman told The Arizona Republic that the billboard mischaracterized his stance, as the bill would not explicitly outlaw IVF.

If there was some sort of technicality in the bill, “that’s fine, attack me,” Schweikert said. “But I think we’ve been pretty clear I’m pro-life.”

While anti-abortion legislation that designates conception as the point of independent life, such as the Life at Conception Act, does not mention fertility healthcare, it adds undeveloped embryos and zygotes as protected life under the law. This, in turn, opens fertility clinics up to wrongful death lawsuits, as any embryo created that doesn’t result in a live birth would be in violation of wrongful death laws.

The billboard’s detour through Schweikert’s district came the day after the Arizona Supreme Court decided this week to reinstate its 19th-century, total abortion ban, which has brought uncertainty to whether it put fertility care at risk. While many Republicans who helped bring the ban back walked back their support amid public pressure, Schweikert’s response was noncommittal.

While he came out in opposition to the court’s ruling, it was more over procedure than function. Instead, he said in a statement that the legislature should be the one to pass a new ban, not have an old one reinstated by the courts.

“This issue should be decided by Arizonans, not legislated from the bench,” said Schweikert. “I encourage the state legislature to address this issue immediately.”

And, while the Republican-led legislature avoided the issue, Arizonans as a whole have not: over 500,000 voters have signed a petition to bring protections for reproductive healthcare to the November 2024 ballot.

The initiative seeks to amend the Arizona Constitution to make abortion services a protected right. Those interested in signing the petition or volunteering to help in their efforts are encouraged to visit the Arizona for Abortion Access website.

Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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