Murray, Shaheen, Duckworth, Hirono, and Smith speak out against bill that threatens medical providers with jail time for letting medical standards—not politics—guide care, and interferes with women’s deeply personal medical decisions
Murray: “This bill is government interference in women’s health care, in families’ lives, and in medicine on steroids. It is… clearly anti-doctor, anti-woman, and anti-family.”
Shaheen: “This is an effort to intimidate doctors with the threat of criminal liability for performing safe and legal abortion, which will have a chilling effect on the ability of women to access the services they need in the United States.”
Duckworth: “I’ve said this a thousand times before, and I’ll keep saying it until I go hoarse: A woman’s medical decisions should be between her and her physician, not dictated by some politician in DC.”
Hirono: “When you strip away the ultra-conservative rhetoric, you’re left with a very simple argument from supporters of this legislation: that the moral judgments of right-wing politicians in Washington should supersede a medical professional’s judgment and a woman’s decision.”
Smith: “We don’t tell Emergency Room doctors how to save lives, and we shouldn’t tell women’s doctors how to take care of their patients.”
Leading medical organizations also overwhelmingly oppose the bill
***Watch Senator Murray’s full speech HERE***
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), took to the Senate floor to speak out against S. 311, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The legislation would subject providers to criminal penalties for letting medical standards—not politics—guide their care for patients, include ambiguous language in statute to give anti-abortion activists and lawyers more room to sue abortion providers, and interfere with deeply personal health care decisions that should be left to a woman and her health care provider.
“This bill is government interference in women’s health care, in families’ lives, and in medicine on steroids. It is, as I said, clearly anti-doctor, anti-woman, and anti-family. It has no place becoming law. Its proponents claim it would make something illegal that is already illegal,” said Senator Murray. “I am against it in the strongest terms. Everybody who cares about women—families—doctors—upholding the Constitution—should be too.”
“This misguided legislation would significantly interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and pose new obstacles to a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. This is an effort to intimidate doctors with the threat of criminal liability for performing safe and legal abortion, which will have a chilling effect on the ability of women to access the services they need in the United States. Now more than ever, we need to stand up and help protect women’s health care and make certain that abortions remain safe and legal,” said Senator Shaheen.
“I can’t begin to conceive of the pain of the mom-to-be who learns that the baby she already loves isn’t viable, or that the child whose name she’s already chosen and whose life she’s already imagined will never open her eyes,” said Senator Duckworth. “All this bill would do is sharpen those families’ suffering and make it harder for the next woman to get the care that could save her life. I’ve said this a thousand times before, and I’ll keep saying it until I go hoarse: A woman’s medical decisions should be between her and her physician, not dictated by some politician in DC. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against S.311: a bill that’s as heartless as it is dangerous.”
“This legislation uses a false premise to inflame the public, shame women, and intimidate health care providers,” said Senator Hirono. “When you strip away the ultra-conservative rhetoric, you’re left with a very simple argument from supporters of this legislation: that the moral judgments of right-wing politicians in Washington should supersede a medical professional’s judgment and a woman’s decision. Conservative politicians should not be telling doctors how they should care for their patients. Instead, women—in consultation with their families and doctors—are best positioned to determine their best course of care.”
“No lawmaker should be in the business of interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. We don’t tell oncologists how to treat their patients. We don’t tell Emergency Room doctors how to save lives, and we shouldn’t tell women’s doctors how to take care of their patients,” said Senator Smith. “I oppose this legislation because we should not be dictating what doctors can or cannot do to deliver the best medical care for women. We need to continue to trust women and their doctors.”
The Obama administration opposed this law when it was voted on in the House in the 114th Congress, House Democrats have also overwhelmingly and regularly opposed it, and leading medical organizations have made their opposition clear as well.
The legislation is the latest in Republicans’ ongoing efforts to undermine women’s access to the health care they need. Last week the Trump Administration also announced changes to the Title X family planning program making it illegal for health care providers at clinics that receive Title X funds to refer patients for abortions and imposing medically unnecessary restrictions on providers within the Title X program.
Video of Sen. Murray’s speech available HERE.
Full text below of Sen. Murray’s speech:
“M. President I am on the floor to talk about a vote that simply should not have taken place tonight—a vote on yet another attack from my Republican colleagues on women’s health and their right to access safe, legal abortion—this time in the form of an anti-doctor, anti-woman, anti-family piece of legislation that medical experts strongly oppose.
“Republicans have spread a lot of misinformation about this bill—so let’s be clear about what it is not about—and what it actually is about. This bill is not about protecting infants, as Republicans have claimed—because that is not up for debate and it is already the law. This bill is also no at all about ensuring appropriate medical care is delivered— because it would make it harder for health care providers to provide high-quality medical care their patients need and deserve.
“The leading nonpartisan organization of OB-GYNs in our country has said that this bill should never become law. They called it, ‘gross legislative interference into the practice of medicine,’ and, ‘part of a larger attempt to deny women access to safe, legal, evidence-based abortion care.’
“In fact, seventeen top health and medical organizations wrote to Congress to insist that Democrats and Republicans vote this bill down.
“M. President, since this bill is not about infants or appropriate medical care—I’m sure many people are wondering, what exactly is it about? What would this bill really mean for women, families, and health care providers?
“If you are a woman, this bill would mean that if you were one of very, very few women who need an abortion later in pregnancy, you could be legally required to accept inappropriate, medically unnecessary care—care that may directly conflict with your wishes at a deeply personal, often incredibly painful moment in your life—because politicians in Washington decided their beliefs mattered more than yours.
“If you are a medical provider, this bill would supersede your years of medical training and your oath to deliver the best possible medical treatment to your patients. It would apply a one-size-fits-all set of requirements that do not reflect the reality that every pregnancy is different. And it would subject you to criminal penalties if you chose to let medical standards, not politics, drive the care you offer your patient.
“For families struggling with the painful reality that the child they had hoped for cannot survive—as is tragically the case in many of the circumstances we are discussing—this legislation would take precedent over the family’s wishes as they grieve.
“M. President—this bill is government interference in women’s health care, in families’ lives, and in medicine on steroids. It is, as I said, clearly anti-doctor, anti-woman, and anti-family. It has no place becoming law. Its proponents claim it would make something illegal that is already illegal.
“So why are we debating this legislation that would take women backward, when there are so many ways we should be advancing medicine, improving women’s health care, and supporting families? Because, M. President, this bill is about something that Republicans care about more, as far as I can tell, than almost any other priority. And that, unfortunately, is rolling back women’s constitutionally protected rights, and trying to take us back in time to before the Roe v. Wade decision.
“Since day one of the Trump-Pence Administration, this party has pulled every possible stop to appeal to its extreme, anti-abortion base. Just last week, M. President, the Trump-Pence Administration put forward a rule that would prevent health care providers at clinics funded through the Title X family planning program from so much as informing patients about where to get an abortion, even if their patient directly asks them for advice on where to go.
“This rule means trusted medical providers across the country may not be able to serve women and men who rely on them for contraception, cancer screenings, and more, all because Republicans are determined to make abortion impossible in the United States.
“And this is just one of many examples.
“So, M. President, to recap, this bill is: completely unnecessary, harmful to women and families, would criminalize doctors, and is intended to do nothing except help Republicans advance their goal of denying women their constitutionally protected rights.
“I am against it in the strongest terms. Everybody who cares about women—families—doctors—upholding the Constitution—should be too.
“So I am glad the Senate voted to stop this anti-doctor, anti-woman, anti-family bill from going a single step further.”
“And the next time Republicans want to have a conversation about protecting infants and children, I’m happy to talk about the babies and children separated from their parents at the border, or improving access to early childhood education, or making sure coverage for maternal health care and pre-existing conditions aren’t taken away. Because those are problems that do exist—and do need to be solved—and we are just as ready and willing to work on those as we are to stand up and say ‘absolutely not’ to this harmful bill.