***WATCH: Senator Murray pushes to protect doctors after Republicans introduce extreme national ban***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), took to the Senate floor to seek 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 just one week after Republicans introduced a national abortion ban that would punish doctors with up to five years in jail for providing abortion care, Republican Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) once again blocked the commonsense, urgently-needed legislation.
“Last week, Republicans made clear that despite the clear outcry from people across the country, overturning Roe was just their first step. Republicans want a national abortion ban. Republicans want to force my constituents to stay pregnant even when they don’t want to be, and go after the doctors who provide abortion care,” Senator Murray said on the floor. “This legislation is so straightforward: it protects doctors providing legal abortion care, and ensures they can practice medicine and save lives without fear of legal threats and intimidation.”
After Senator Braun blocked the legislation, Senator Murray said: “Republicans continue to show their true, harsh colors, and the contrast with Democrats could not be more stark. We want to help people get health care and let them make their own medical decisions. Republicans want to ban abortion nationwide. We want to protect doctors. Republicans want to threaten, penalize, or even jail them for doing their job, even when they are following their state’s laws.”
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 28 of their Democratic colleagues in August. 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.
In the weeks since Roe was overturned, Senator Murray has fought to pass key protections to safeguard Americans’ fundamental rights—pushing to advance commonsense legislation to protect the right to contraception, protect every American’s right to travel, protect doctors’ right to provide legal abortion care, and expand our national family planning program. But at every turn, Senate Republicans have stood in the way, blocking every single bill.
Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“Last week, Republicans made clear that despite the clear outcry from people across the country, overturning Roe was just their first step.
“Republicans want a national abortion ban.
“Republicans want to force my constituents to stay pregnant even when they don’t want to be, and go after the doctors who provide abortion care.
“Well I am here today to continue saying—in no uncertain terms—that Democrats are not going to stand for it.
“While Republicans are busy threatening the rights of women in every state across the country and threatening doctors with jail time, Democrats are here to defend abortion rights, and defend the doctors that provide this care.
“Because even before Republicans dropped their national abortion ban I was hearing from providers across Washington state who are facing a huge influx of patients due to Republicans’ extreme bans. Just yesterday the Texas Tribune shared the heartbreaking story of a woman who learned that the pregnancy she had wanted so badly, was incompatible with life, that her daughter was developing without a skull or brain. But because Republicans in Texas think they know better than this woman or her doctor she had to travel from Dallas to Seattle to get the care she needed.
“And providers on the ground in my state tell me there are so many more patients being forced to make a trek like this. They are worried about caring for them — and not just because it’s so many more patients, not just because Republicans are straining resources and causing a health care crisis that puts women’s lives at risk. Health care professionals are also deeply worried about how Republicans’ extreme laws threaten their practices. They are terrified Republicans will take away their livelihoods, even their freedom, just for doing their jobs, just for providing care their patients need—care that is, once again, completely legal in my state.
“And they are right to be scared.
“When it comes to Republicans’ extreme, no-holds-barred, anti-abortion agenda, the writing is on the wall—and it has been for some time.
“Even before this latest bill—Republican state lawmakers were already drafting legislation that would make it a crime to provide abortion care to a resident even in another state where it’s legal.
“And they were doing this while at the same time trying to claim they didn’t want to throw doctors in prison.
“And on top of all that: they were standing in the way of the bill I will offer today to protect health care providers.
“Now this is a really straight forward bill.
“It simply protects doctors providing legal abortion care.
“But last time I tried to pass it, the junior Senator from Indiana said he was concerned about this bill quote “allowing abortions for anyone who crosses State lines and is not a resident of that State.”
“In other words—Republicans are worried about all the patients I mentioned earlier, who are traveling to Washington seeking abortion care they urgently need.
“Republicans don’t think they should be able to travel to Washington state to get health care, and want to allow other states to target Washington doctors—to threaten them for providing legal abortion care.
“That’s extreme. It’s not what doctors want, and it’s definitely not what the American people want.
“Women and men across the country do not want politicians making their health care decisions and throwing their doctors in prison.
“They want to be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies, families, and futures. They want doctors to be able to focus on doing their jobs—not fearing a jail sentence.
“So I urge my Republican colleagues to step aside and allow Democrats to pass the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act.
“This legislation is so straightforward: it protects doctors providing legal abortion care, and ensures they can practice medicine and save lives without fear of legal threats and intimidation.
“It makes clear that the attacks we have seen on doctors are unacceptable and 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.
“Now, if Republicans have been doing what I have been doing, if they have been actually listening to doctors and patients, then they should reverse course, and let us actually get this common sense bill passed into law.
“But if they continue blocking these steps, if they continue ignoring the outcry from every corner of our country if they continue undermining the health of patients seeking care, and the freedom of health care providers just doing their jobs, they should know we are not going to stop pushing back.
“There is too much at stake.”