In this Sept. 27, 2023 file photo, Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., speaks during a news conference on border security at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — Amid the political fallout over the Alabama Supreme Court decision that frozen embryos are “children’ — seen as jeopardizing access to IVF — President Joe Biden is expected to use his election-year State of the Union address Thursday to cast himself, and Democrats, as defenders of reproductive freedom.

But Republicans hope to have an answer in Sen. Katie Britt, Alabama’s newly-minted junior senator, who is slated to give the Republican response to Biden in prime time with tens of millions watching.

Britt, whose home state has in recent weeks been at the forefront of debate over reproductive freedom, has spoken out to defend access to IVF, telling, “Make no mistake — defending life and ensuring continued access to IVF services for loving parents are not mutually exclusive.”

“Katie is fighting to preserve the American Dream for the next generation,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement announcing Britt’s speech. “She is a champion for strong families, a secure border, national defense and a vibrant economy with stable prices and opportunities for all. The American people will tune in as the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate turns the page on the oldest President in history.”

Who is Katie Britt?

At 42, Britt is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate. The Alabama native, who is often seen in bright monochromatic suits energetically engaging with colleagues on Capitol Hill, has in recent months become an emerging face of her party, with leadership eager to highlight her position at the forefront of the young conservative movement.

Despite her relatively brief time as a senator, Britt has quickly established herself as a leading voice on issues of immigration.

Britt is the latest in a string of GOP responses delivered by rising stars of the party. Last year, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the GOP response. Sen. Tim Scott, a potential VP contender, delivered the response in 2021 before going on to launch a now-disbanded bid for president himself.

Britt was elected to the Senate in November 2022, when Senate Republicans narrowly failed to recapture the Senate majority.

Though she’s part of the newest class of senators, she’s no stranger to Capitol Hill. Before being elected herself, Britt worked for Alabama’s longtime Sen. Richard Shelby, first as his communications director and later, after returning from earning her law degree at the University of Alabama and working in private practice, his chief of staff.

She also served as the CEO of the Business Council of Alabama before returning to the Senate.

Britt is the only mother of school aged children in the Senate Republican Conference. She has two children, a son and a daughter, who are in 8th and 9th grade, that she shares with her husband, Wesley Britt, a former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots.

She highlighted her youth in her 2022 Senate campaign — and she’s expected to do the same in her speech on Thursday night. It’ll no doubt stand in contrast to remarks from an 81-year-old Joe Biden, whose received consistent criticism from the right about his advanced age.

“At this decisive moment in our country’s history, it’s time for the next generation to step up and preserve the American Dream for our children and our grandchildren,” Britt said in a statement when she was announced as the one to give the GOP response.

Britt at the center of the Alabama IVF debate

Britt came into deep focus after the state Supreme Court in her home state made a controversial ruling that embryos created through IVF should be considered children under state law. The ruling caused immediate threats to fertility treatments in the state as many women were forced to postpone their IVF treatments while facilities contemplated the legal implications it could have on providers.

While Democrats swooped in to highlight how reproductive health care has continued to be eroded since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in 2022 — made possible by Republican appointments to the Supreme Court — Britt quickly became an outspoken defender of IVF.

She was front and center as one Republican after another issued statements making clear that the party supports IVF, as many called on Alabama to modify its rules to ensure IVF was protected.

In the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court decision, Britt, who is anti-abortion, called for protecting “continued access to IVF services.”

She then spoke directly to former President Donald Trump before he issued his statement reaffirming support for IVF following their ruling.

Democrats are clearly looking to highlight the Alabama ruling and what they cast as threats to reproductive health posed by Republicans in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court abortion access decision.

In recent weeks, Democrats have tried to draw a clean line from that decision to the Alabama court ruling that threatened IVF access.

And their announced guests at the State of the Union on Thursday certainly aim to emphasize the point. Early announced guests include the CEO of Planned Parenthood California, the first person ever born through IVF, and IVF advocates. President Biden invited Katie Cox, the Texas mom who sued to terminate her pregnancy after being denied, to be his guest at the State of the Union address.

Late Wednesday night, Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey enshrined new IVF protections into law — signing the bill passed just hours before by the GOP-controlled legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.