Does Mark Robinson support or oppose IVF? He won’t say.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Republican candidate for governor, speaks at an election night event in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Dylan Rhoney

March 11, 2024

North Carolina already has a 12-week abortion ban and Lieutenant Gov. Mark Robinson has promised a total ban on abortion. Could IVF treatment be under threat from a potential Gov. Robinson?

The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision last month declaring  that frozen embryos are legally children sent shockwaves across the country, raising fears that Republicans in other states might try to ban in vitro fertilization (IVF) as part of their rollback of reproductive freedom. 

In North Carolina, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, the Republican nominee for governor, has not been shy about his outright hostility to abortion rights. He has compared abortion to “murder” and “genocide” and has asserted that once a woman is pregnant “it’s not [her] body anymore.” He celebrated the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and has expressed support  for a complete abortion ban, without exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. 

Just last month, audio was published of Robinson telling an attendee at one of his events how he would work his way towards a complete ban. 

“We’ve got to do it that same way they rolled it forward, we’ve got to do it the same way with rolling it back. We’ve got it down to 12 weeks. The next goal is to get it down to six, and then just keep moving from there,” Robinson said.

While Robinson has never explicitly expressed opposition to IVF or stated that embryos are people, when asked in early February, weeks before the Alabama ruling, if he believed life began at conception, he said  “absolutely,” a position that would be consistent with the Alabama ruling and suggest support for restrictions on IVF.

In response to the Alabama ruling, several clinics in the state stopped providing IVF services out of fear they could face prosecution for lost or discarded embryos. Forty-five percent of embryos in the laboratory do not survive.

While the ruling only applied within Alabama, it left many across the country fearing that fertility treatments could be the next target of the anti-choice movement in the US.

Robinson’s campaign did not respond when asked by the Charlotte Observer whether or not he supported access to IVF. They also did not respond to a request for comment for this story and Robinson has not publicly addressed IVF. 

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) released a statement on Robinson’s silence on the matter. 

By refusing to say if he’ll protect IVF, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is only confirming Republicans’ worst fears that he is too extreme for North Carolina,” the statement reads. 

In 2021 and 2023, Robinson spoke at the North Carolina Right to Life’s annual rally and march. The group has been explicit in its opposition to IVF and has a link on their website called “The Case Against Killing Human Human Embryos.”

Following the decision by the Alabama Supreme Court and furious public backlash, the Alabama legislature passed a bill protecting clinics and IVF providers from civil and criminal liability, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law. Democrats have also introduced legislation in Congress to try and protect IVF, though the bill was blocked by Senate Republicans. 

Following the Alabama ruling, Dr. Amy Bryant, a Durham-based gynecologist, wrote in NC Newsline about her fears that attacks on IVF could spread to North Carolina. 

“Our state legislature has already shown that it does not listen to physicians when it comes to interference in personal health decisions,” Bryant wrote. “Last year, the General Assembly rammed through a highly unpopular abortion ban that the majority of physicians in the state were clearly against.”

“North Carolinians should take note,” she continued. “Patients and physicians should be allowed to make decisions regarding their fertility based on their personal values and beliefs, not those imposed by the state. A state that sanctions these deeply unpopular intrusions into people’s lives, based on the religious views of a subset of its population, will find itself without the healthcare workforce it needs to have a thriving population.”

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