A Sullivan staff member says Sullivan supports IVF treatment but did not give a reason why he voted to stop the bill.The U.S. Capitol, as seen from the East Plaza. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska’s U.S. senators split their votes earlier today over a bill to protect in vitro fertilization. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans to vote in favor of advancing the Democratic bill.

Sen. Dan Sullivan joined all other Republicans in voting to block the bill. He signed onto a Republican letter accusing Democrats of “false fear-mongering” about reproductive issues. A Sullivan staff member says Sullivan supports IVF treatment. She did not provide a reason why he voted to stop the IVF bill. It fell a dozen votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

The Senate dynamics echoed a vote last week on contraceptive rights. Murkowski voted for that one, too, while Sullivan didn’t vote. He hasn’t said why he was absent for it.

In vitro fertilization has been drawn into the abortion debate because it often produces more embryos than parents choose to implant. Typically, embryos are frozen for possible future use or destroyed.

The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution Wednesday opposing the destruction of “frozen embryonic human beings.”

Senate Democrats are highlighting their support for abortion and other reproductive rights, drawing a contrast with Republicans in an election year. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the IVF bill wasn’t a mere show vote but a “show us who you are” vote.

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