Rep. Kamlager-Dove: ‘IVF Allowed Me to Dream of Motherhood’

The Alabama ruling on IVF shames stories like mine, and millions of women trying to conceive. It’s a disgusting—and accurate—display of the Republican Party’s priorities.

Rep. Kamlager-Dove at the Democratic Women’s Caucus IVF press conference on Feb. 29, 2024. (Courtesy)

Last month, the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children. The result: In vitro fertilization, or IVF, was paused for women across the state.  

Can you imagine the frustration that those women must be feeling? I can.  

By the time I actively decided to try to have children, I couldn’t get pregnant. The days became weeks, the weeks became months, and after six months of trying, I was at a loss. I called my mother, embarrassed and in tears, feeling like something about me was broken. It was then that she told me about her own struggles to conceive—I was taken aback. I had never heard of women of child-bearing age having trouble conceiving.  

I was encouraged to try medical support. I did research, consulted with multiple doctors and identified a clinic that specialized in fertility. Of course, this kind of thing isn’t cheap; I had to also research organizations that offered financial support for couples seeking fertility treatment. We didn’t find any. Undeterred, we put ourselves on a payment plan and started the journey toward fertility.

It was excruciating. I got poked, took tests, had eggs removed and received my doses of medicine. I hate needles—absolutely hate them. But I found a way, before bed, to give myself my nightly hormone shot in the stomach. My days were full of anxiety; I shed tears when it was time to administer the shot, feeling a short spurt of relief when it was done, only to feel the anxiety creep back in as I laid down with the knowledge that I had to do it again the next day. 

It felt like a doom loop. Sad thoughts would trickle in right before we’d try to conceive.

Would this work? Had I finally fixed myself? Would I get pregnant, or would we have to keep trying?

Can we continue to afford this? Because the longer it takes, the higher the doses, the more options on the table, the higher the cost. I was willing and able to do whatever it took—quite literally—for the dream of one day conceiving a child.  

For women across Alabama, that dream is now in limbo. Everything they have invested into that dream is now uncertain. All their stress and strain may have been for nothing.

Admittedly, earlier this month, the state’s governor signed a bill into law aimed at protecting IVF patients and providers from legal liability—but this new law does not address the issue of personhood at the heart of the court’s ruling.

There’s no other way to say it: This ruling is hateful, spiteful and ignorant. It shames stories like mine, and the journey of millions of women trying to conceive. It’s a disgusting—and accurate—display of the Republican Party’s priorities. Post-Dobbs, women have been consistently under attack by the GOP. Alabama, for example, has a near-total ban on abortion, with zero exceptions for rape or incest.  

Who has been hurt by those attacks the most? Minority and low-income communities. Black women are four times more likely to get an abortion than white women. As of today, 14 states have criminalized abortion and 12 others have severely restricted access to abortion services. Black women predominantly live in states that have banned abortion. In southern states like Alabama, 64 percent of legal abortions in 2021 were from Black women, in states like Mississippi and Georgia, that number rises to 80 percent and 69 percent, respectively. 

We know that the Republican-backed assault on reproductive rights is being felt the most in Black communities. And I’ll say the quiet part out loud: That’s part of the plan. Republicans know exactly what they’re doing.  

The Republican party’s out-of-touch policies are inconsistent with what American women and men support: A recent poll found IVF is supported by 86 percent of Americans. Though Republicans are back-peddling and trying to distance themselves from the Alabama ruling, we know that the attacks on IVF are part and parcel of their rampant agenda post-Dobbs to regress women’s rights. We said they would come after contraception and fertility treatments, and they did—even when they themselves have benefited from these very options. 

IVF allowed me the dream of motherhood. And, eventually, it led me to become a stepmother to three children. 

In Congress, I will continue to fight so that no one else has to go through the devastation that Alabama women are facing right now. Ultimately, my experience might not have ended in biological parenthood—but it was worth it for the chance that it would work. And that’s an opportunity everyone deserves to have. 

U.S. Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.) at a press conference on the need to protect abortion rights on Jan. 25, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images)

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Sydney Kamlager-Dove represents California’s 37th Congressional District, a diverse area within Los Angeles County. She serves as whip and outreach task force co-chair of the Democratic Women's Caucus and is a proud member of the Pro-Choice Caucus.