08.03.22

Republican Senator Blocks Bill to Protect Doctors Providing Legal Abortion Care from Extreme Attacks

Senator Braun blocks the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act

 

***WATCH: Senator Murray calls out Republicans’ extreme agenda***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), sought unanimous consent to pass her Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to protect doctors’ ability to safely provide abortion care in states where it remains legal—but Republican Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) blocked the straightforward and urgently-needed legislation.

 

Senator Murray and her Democratic colleagues took to the floor to swiftly pass the legislation as Republican elected officials in states across the country threaten legal action against doctors for providing legal abortion care—and have even drafted legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion even when the patient’s life is at risk or the doctor is practicing in a state where abortion is legally permitted. In Indiana, Dr. Caitlin Bernard is facing legal threats after providing legal abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim who was forced to cross state lines. Dr. Bernard has endorsed the legislation.

 

“Doctors are following the law—but still facing legal threats and harassment. Right now, in Indiana, a doctor is being investigated after providing an abortion for a 10-year-old who was raped. Think about that. A doctor is being investigated after doing their job, after simply providing health care,” said Senator Murray. “The fact Dr. Bernard is being investigated, after just doing her job and helping her patient, is chilling. And I want to be very clear: while Dr. Bernard’s story may be in headlines across the country: she is not the only doctor facing threats, and she will not be the last. At this very moment, Republican state lawmakers are drafting legislation that would make it a crime to provide abortion care to a resident even in another state where it’s legal.”

 

“Today, we offered a bill to protect doctors performing legal abortions. They blocked that too,” added Senator Murray. “We have seen time and time again over the last few weeks that when it comes to protecting rights and providing health care for women, patients, and families, Republicans’ promises are empty, and their positions are extreme.”

  

Senator Murray introduced the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act alongside Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and 22 of their Democratic colleagues earlier this week. The legislation would help protect against Republicans’ attacks, ensuring that providers in states where abortion remains legal are protected from any efforts to restrict their practice or create uncertainty about their legal liability.

  

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

 

“I’d like to start by recognizing the overwhelming victory for the right to abortion in Kansas last night.

 

“Since the day the Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, and upended the lives of women across the country, the American people have been using their voices to speak out against Republicans’ extreme bans.

 

“And now—for the first time since the Dobbs decision—they’ve had the chance to speak with their votes. And they sent a message loud and clear. 

 

“People do not want their fundamental rights stripped away.

 

“They will not forget Republicans cruelty in dragging us back half a century.

 

“And when abortion is at stake, they are not staying on the sidelines.

 

“M. President, last night the people of Kansas sent a message as clear as any I have ever seen in politics.

 

“Now, today, we’re going to see if Republicans are finally getting that message—or if they are continuing to ignore the American people.

 

“Because Democrats are here today with legislation to protect doctors providing legal abortion care and ensure they can do their jobs, practice medicine, and save lives without threat of legal action.

 

“I really cannot believe we need this bill at all—we’re talking about doctors who are following the law, and simply want to provide care to their patients.

 

“But that’s where Republicans have dragged this country.

 

“It’s not enough for Republicans that their cruel abortion bans have meant: appointments cancelled, prescriptions denied, and doctors forced to wait until patients get sicker—wait until women are at death’s door—before they can provide lifesaving care.

 

“No—they’re going further than that.

 

“Now they’re coming after doctors providing legal abortion care too.

 

“I really cannot emphasize that enough: these doctors are following the law—but still facing legal threats and harassment.

 

“Right now, in Indiana, a doctor is being investigated after providing an abortion for a 10-year-old who was raped.

 

“Think about that. A doctor is being investigated after doing their job, after simply providing health care—care that can be lifesaving care that was entirely legal in her state, care that—up until Republicans’ far-right Supreme Court overturned Roe—was legal across the country.

 

“The fact Dr. Bernard is being investigated, after just doing her job and helping her patient, is chilling.

 

“And I want to be very clear: while Dr. Bernard’s story may be in headlines across the country: she is not the only doctor facing threats, and she will not be the last.

 

“At this very moment, Republican state lawmakers are drafting legislation that would make it a crime to provide abortion care to a resident even in another state where it’s legal.

 

“From talking with doctors back home, I can tell you they are following this closely, and they are worried.

 

“I’ve heard from providers back in Spokane, and across Washington state, who are worried they could face lawsuits that threaten their practices and their livelihoods just for doing their jobs, just for providing care their patients need—care that is, once again, completely legal in my state.

 

“So Democrats are standing up for doctors.

 

“We have been drafting a bill of our own—the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act—and we’re so proud to say that Dr. Bernard herself supports this bill.

 

“And I’d also like to thank my colleagues, the junior Senator from Nevada, the junior Senator from New Mexico, and the junior Senator from California for their partnership on this bill.

 

“As well as my colleague Representative Schrier from my home state of Washington, who is leading this legislation in the House.

 

“This is another simple bill to address a threat we know is far too real.

 

“The Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act will protect doctors providing legal abortion care, and ensure they can practice medicine and save lives without fear of legal threats and intimidation.

 

“It will make clear that the attacks we have seen on doctors are unacceptable. That politicians should not be harassing, scaring, investigating, threatening, or punishing doctors for providing care that is perfectly legal, that patients want, and that—in many cases—is even necessary to save lives.

 

“Democrats are going to try to pass this bill right now, because we believe no doctor should be punished for caring for patients and providing legal abortion care.

 

“And if Republicans who have claimed they ‘don’t want to punish doctors,’ actually mean it—if those words are more than another empty talking point, more than another broken promise—they will stay out of the way and let us get this done.

 

“But if they don’t—if they block us like they blocked legislation to protect the right to travel across state lines for an abortion, like they blocked legislation to expand family planning services, like they blocked legislation to protect the right to contraceptives—their obstruction will continue to speak louder than any of their hollow claims about caring for patients, families, and women.

 

“And even if they stop us from getting this bill done today, they are not going to stop us from continuing to put them on the record and hold them accountable for their true positions. They are not going to stop us from doing everything we can to protect the rights—and the people—they are putting in such grave danger.

 

“And they are going to have to answer to the people they represent—to the patients, providers, and families whose lives they are turning upside down.”

 

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