07.13.22

At Hearing, Senator Murray Spells Out Catastrophic Consequences for Women’s Health in a Post-Roe America

Senator Murray: “Republicans are going to force women to stay pregnant, not only when they don’t want to be—but even when it could kill them.”

 

Senator Murray: “We will not let Republicans whistle past the graveyard they have spent so long digging. And we will absolutely not stop fighting with everything we’ve got to end this chaos, save lives, and codify the right to abortion into law.”

 

***WATCH: SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, led a hearing on the state of reproductive care in a post-Roe America and the threats the Dobbs decision poses to women’s health. 

 

At the hearing, Senator Murray underscored the swift and harsh consequences the Dobbs decision and Republicans’ decades-long work to rip away the right to abortion has already had—and will continue to have—for millions of women across the country.

 

“Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court—and the Republicans who dedicated years to swinging the court aggressively to the right—dragged our country back fifty years. They overturned Roe v. Wade, ended the right to abortion, and upended the lives of millions of people. And the consequences have been harsh and swift,” said Senator Murray. “And Republicans’ response to this devastation is to discuss how they can push even farther, be even crueler, take even more power away from patients, and scare even more doctors out of their jobs.”

 

Senator Murray asked providers and experts about how forcing women to keep pregnancies jeopardizes the health and safety of women and patients across the country—and will exacerbate the United States’ maternal mortality crisis. Sharing the story of a constituent who survived two ectopic pregnancies, Senator Murray described how Republicans’ extreme policies prevent women from getting the medical care they need even when their pregnancies pose a threat to their lives—and stressed that the toll will fall hardest on people in rural areas, women of color, women with disabilities, and transgender patients, who already face steep barriers to getting care, but will, of course, hurt women everywhere in America.

 

“Pregnancy is a life-changing medical procedure. It takes a physical toll. It takes a mental toll. And for too many women in our country, it takes their life. No one should be forced to go through this against their will. But Republicans are going to force women to stay pregnant, not only when they don’t want to be—but even when it could kill them,” said Senator Murray.

 

“About one in fifty pregnancies in our country are ectopic. That means they are not viable, and without medical action they are deadly. But in Republicans’ post-Roe world—health care providers aren’t sure when or even if they will able to treat ectopic patients without being sent to prison. Some have already been instructed to observe patients until they have unstable vital signs before acting—basically, to sit on their hands until women are at dire risk, before they can do what they know is medically necessary,” said Senator Murray. “That is absolutely barbaric. And it’s a policy choice that Republicans have made.”

 

Senator Murray noted that Republicans’ extreme agenda doesn’t just threaten the health of pregnant patients in states that have banned abortion. It affects a wide range of patients in every state as Republicans eye a nationwide abortion ban, cause health care crises across state lines, seek to restrict travel, and curtail access to medication abortion, birth control, services like IVF, and even lifesaving medications for patients with lupus, cancer, arthritis, and more.

 

“Make no mistake—this isn’t just going to devastate patients in states with abortion bans,” said Senator Murray. “Republicans have been explicit that they want to go farther. They want to pass legislation to go after people who help patients travel for an abortion, and a national abortion ban that would trample the rights of patients in Washington state.

 

“This isn’t idle worrying. Because Republicans in several states have already proposed extreme bills that ban abortion starting at conception, and could impact IVF and some methods of birth control,” added Senator Murray. “And already, pharmacies have told patients with lupus, arthritis, and other conditions they can’t fill their prescriptions due to concerns the drugs would be used for an abortion.”

 

Senator Murray stressed that Republicans cannot continue to ignore the devastation they have caused. And she stressed that she and her Democratic colleagues are not going to stop fighting to protect our fundamental rights—and with two more pro-choice Senators—will restore the right to abortion nationwide.

 

“I’m going to continue standing with women and lifting up patients’ voices. And anyone who thinks I’m going to stop? Any Republican who thinks people will forget about this in a few months? You still do not get it,” said Senator Murray. “How little do you have to care about women to think anyone will forget the people who are killed by this? Women who can’t get an abortion but need one, who turned to unsafe misinformation because they were denied access to safe medical care. People who couldn’t get their prescription filled, couldn’t start chemo, or died in a maternal health care desert since doctors don’t want to be treated like criminals for doing their jobs.”

 

“We will not let Republicans whistle past the graveyard they have spent so long digging. And we will absolutely not stop fighting with everything we’ve got to end this chaos, save lives, and codify the right to abortion into law. We will never stop fighting for women’s rights to control their own bodies. Never,” added Senator Murray.

 

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court—and the Republicans who dedicated years to swinging the court aggressively to the right—dragged our country back fifty years.

 

“They overturned Roe v. Wade, ended the right to abortion, and upended the lives of millions of people.


“And the consequences have been harsh and swift.


“Women sobbed in clinics, as they had their abortions canceled, their personal health care decisions overruled, their futures thrown in jeopardy, and their control over their own bodies taken away.

 

“It was heartbreaking, terrifying, enraging, and barbaric. And that was just day one.

 

“Since then, the devastating repercussions of Republicans’ cruelty continue to crash around us.

 

“Women unable to get abortions for any reason. Health care providers unable to do their jobs without risking prison. Patients with lupus, cancer, arthritis, and more denied the medications they need. Complete uncertainty for people planning their futures as access to Plan B and IVF has been thrown into jeopardy.

 

“And Republicans’ response to this devastation is to discuss how they can push even farther, be even crueler, take even more power away from patients, and scare even more doctors out of their jobs.

 

“Republicans are talking about a federal ban on abortion—overruling laws in states like my home state of Washington, and ripping away rights from my constituents.


“Republicans are talking about criminal penalties for women and health care providers.

 

“Republicans are talking about making traveling to get an abortion illegal.

 

“Republicans are talking about everything except the actual harm they are causing.

 

“This is a health care crisis that was entirely avoidable—and is entirely their own creation.

 

“I have been warning for years about Republicans’ attacks on reproductive rights putting lives at risk. And I am far from the only one.

“Women, providers, and patients across the country have all been shouting from the rooftops, at the tops of their lungs that overturning Roe would be devastating.


“But Republicans don’t care.

 

“They have refused to listen to me or to the majority of people across the country who wanted Roe to stand—who wanted to keep their rights, and preserve women’s ability to control their own bodies.

 

“And Republicans are still continuing to spread disinformation about the reality we’re facing, about the consequences of their backwards agenda. 


“I mean it’s unbelievable.

 

“When the leaked decision came out, Republicans tried to say they weren’t going to put women and doctors in jail.. even as state legislatures across the country were already moving to do so.

 

“And they are still trying to say it won’t be that bad, even when it’s clearly devastating for women across the country who they are ignoring and oppressing.

 

“Well, today, they are going to hear exactly what their cruelty means for women seeking abortions women Republicans will force to stay pregnant when they don’t want to be—women whose bodies Republicans are taking control of without their consent and against their wishes.

 

“And this isn’t just about whether people want to be parents—though let me be perfectly clear that we must do way more than Republicans have even dreamed of doing to actually support parents.

 

“Child care, paid leave, you name it—Republicans have blocked Democrats’ non-stop efforts to deliver for working families.

 

“But anyone who has given birth, also knows this isn’t just about whether you are ready to raise a child.

 

“Pregnancy is a life-changing medical procedure. It takes a physical toll. It takes a mental toll. And for too many women in our country, it takes their life.

“No one should be forced to go through this against their will.

 

“But Republicans are going to force women to stay pregnant, not only when they don’t want to be—but even when it could kill them.

“Just ask Elisabeth, who I spoke with last week in Spokane.

 

“She has been pregnant four times, all planned, all wanted. But twice—she learned her pregnancy would be fatal if not ended. In the first instance—she got the heartbreaking news that one of the twins she was carrying had passed, the other could not possibly survive outside the womb, and that her life was in grave danger. In the second instance—she was told that without immediate action she would lose too much blood to survive the night.

 

“As Elisabeth told me, “Had I lived in a state without access to safe and legal abortion, I would have died, bleeding out on the side of the road, trying to make it to a state that would help me.”


“Those are the stakes. And not just for Elisabeth—but for so many patients.

“About one in fifty pregnancies in our country are ectopic. That means they are not viable, and without medical action they are deadly.

 

“But in Republicans’ post-Roe world—health care providers aren’t sure when or even if they will able to treat ectopic patients without being sent to prison.

 

“Some have already been instructed to observe patients until they have unstable vital signs before acting—basically, to sit on their hands until women are at dire risk, before they can do what they know is medically necessary.

 

“That is absolutely barbaric. And it’s a policy choice that Republicans have made.

 

“Some may try to suggest patients go to another state, but if you’re in the middle of a medical emergency that is dangerous—or impossible.

 

“Not to mention that Republicans are already discussing banning interstate travel.

 

“And we cannot lose sight of the fact that the same patients and providers hurt by these restrictions are on the frontlines of our nation’s maternal mortality crisis.

 

“We have the worst maternal death rate in the developed world. And in the very states where it is most dangerous to give birth, Republicans are now forcing people to give birth against their will.

 

“It doesn’t take an expert to understand this is only going to get worse because of these dangerous abortion bans.

 

“Women will be denied the care they need—the care their doctors know could save their lives.


“States will lose maternal health care providers, who understandably don’t want to live where they could be jailed for doing their job.

 

“This will be especially hard on people in rural areas, on women of color, and on women with disabilities, who already have a particularly difficult time finding providers who take their concerns seriously, and understand their health care needs.

 

“And it can be even harder still for transgender patients seeking reproductive care while facing stigma, discrimination, and bigotry.

 

“And make no mistake—this isn’t just going to devastate patients in states with abortion bans.

 

“First off—I want to be very clear: Republicans have been explicit that they want to go farther. They want to pass legislation to go after people who help patients travel for an abortion, and a national abortion ban that would trample the rights of patients in Washington state.

 

“And secondly, even now, health clinics are being overwhelmed.

“I was just in Spokane last week, only miles from the Idaho border, and providers there are already seeing an uptick of patients, and preparing for a huge surge of patients seeking care when Idaho’s extreme ban goes into effect next door.

 

“We are talking as many as five times more people seeking abortions at our clinics.

 

“They are on the frontlines of a full blown health care crisis.

 

“And let’s not forget there are so many women who can’t travel to get an abortion, who don’t have the time or resources, who face barriers to accessible travel, or who are too young to drive themselves.

 

“There is also the very real risk that people with no other options will turn to dangerous, even deadly, misinformation that is spreading on social media.

 

“Because as I have warned before, so many times: banning abortion doesn’t stop abortions, it just stops people from getting safe abortions.

 

“And it is not only women seeking abortions who are having their lives totally upended by Republicans.

 

“It’s women seeking birth control. Republicans have discussed going after contraception next, and Justice Thomas said the Supreme Court should overturn the right to birth control …

 

“People hoping to start a family using IVF could also be under threat. IVF providers have serious concerns about whether parents and providers could be punished if an embryo doesn’t survive being thawed for implantation, or for disposing unused embryos.

 

“This isn’t idle worrying.

 

“Because Republicans in several states have already proposed extreme bills that ban abortion starting at conception, and could impact IVF and some methods of birth control.

 

“And already, pharmacies have told patients with lupus, arthritis, and other conditions they can’t fill their prescriptions due to concerns the drugs would be used for an abortion. And let’s be clear—these are drugs the FDA approved as safe and effective for their condition years ago.

 

“There are also cancer patients who may be unable to start chemotherapy until they can get an abortion.

 

“And then there are people who have a miscarriage. Abortion bans could jeopardize their health and stop them from getting the care they need to end their miscarriage. And afterwards, they could still face another nightmare: being reported by someone who thinks they got an abortion.

 

“Imagine going through the heartbreak of losing your pregnancy, and then being put in prison for it.


“And this doesn’t have to be an exercise in imagination.

 

“From 2006 to 2020 over a thousand women in this country were investigated, detained, or arrested because of their pregnancy outcomes.

 

“That is horrific. It’s a problem we should be trying to solve—and instead, thanks to Republicans, it’s about to get dramatically worse.

 

“That’s why people across the country are so scared, so heartbroken, and so angry—and I am too.

           

“Because the stakes could not possibly be higher.

“That’s why I led Senate Democrats in pushing President Biden and his Administration to do everything they can to protect access to abortion and reproductive health care.

 

“And President Biden’s executive order on abortion last week was a good, important step: but this fight is far from over.

 

“As we continue living through a post-Roe health care crisis, I’m still urging the President to continue fighting back.

 

“But with limited executive authority, ultimately: we need more pro-choice senators in the Senate willing to waive the filibuster so we can protect women. 

 

“If we can get that: we can codify Roe as well as put in law key protections for women. It’s as simple as that.

 

“We also need to hold Republicans accountable for the harsh reality they have created.

“That’s why I’m holding this hearing today.

 

“It’s why later this week we will call for unanimous consent to pass a bill to protect women who travel to another state for abortion care to show the stark contrast between Republicans’ cruel agenda and Democrats’ steadfast commitment to ensuring women can get the reproductive health care they need.

 

“And it’s why I’m going to continue standing with women and lifting up patients’ voices.

 

“And anyone who thinks I’m going to stop? Any Republican who thinks people will forget about this in a few months?

 

“You still do not get it.

 

“How do you forget being denied your prescription because of this? Or being denied your birth control?

 

“How do you forget having to drive across states to end a pregnancy so you can fight for your life against cancer?

 

“How do you forget being forced to choose between saving your patient, and going to jail?

 

“How do you forget your dream of starting a family through IVF becoming a legal nightmare?

 

“How do you ever in your life forget being investigated for your miscarriage? Or driving your 10 year old daughter across state lines after she was raped and couldn’t get an abortion otherwise?

 

“And how little do you have to care about women to think anyone will forget the people who are killed by this? Women who can’t get an abortion but need one, who turned to unsafe misinformation because they were denied access to safe medical care. People who couldn’t get their prescription filled, couldn’t start chemo, or died in a maternal health care desert since doctors don’t want to be treated like criminals for doing their jobs.

 

“People will not forget those losses. They will sit across from that empty chair every day. They will sleep next to that empty space every night.  

 

“Mark my words, they will not forget.

 

“And Democrats will not let Republicans ignore them either.

 

“We will not let Republicans whistle past the graveyard they have spent so long digging.

 

“And we will absolutely not stop fighting with everything we’ve got to end this chaos, save lives, and codify the right to abortion into law.

 

“We will never stop fighting for women’s rights to control their own bodies.

 

“Never.”

 

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