03.01.16

WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH: Ahead of Oral Arguments, Murray Calls on Extreme Conservatives to #StopTheSham

Murray: “I hope they’ll rule in favor of ensuring women’s health and rights continue to progress—rather than going backward.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow’s Supreme Court oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the first major Supreme Court case involving restrictions on women’s access to abortion in more than two decades. The outcome of the case could decide whether states are able to maintain current anti-abortion laws and enact new laws intended to keep women from exercising their constitutionally protected reproductive rights. Murray urged the Supreme Court to uphold settled law, and protect the health and rights of women today and in future generations.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“…I have been so inspired to see women of all ages, from across the country, standing up to share their stories and make sure the Supreme Court knows why politicians shouldn’t be able to make women’s health care decisions. In fact…113 lawyers submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court explaining the difference that constitutionally protected reproductive rights have made in their own lives.”

 

“The stories they tell are incredibly powerful. One partner at a major law firm wrote that after three miscarriages, “…my husband and I were delighted when I again became pregnant in December 1999 and safely made it past the ‘danger zone’ of the first trimester, passing an amnio with flying colors. But “five weeks later, when I was heading into the sixth month of my pregnancy, I returned to the doctor for a routine ultrasound and the doctor immediately detected a problem.””

 

“Her baby had a rare heart defect, so severe he was already in congestive heart failure—and would be born only to suffer, if he survived at all. After talking with her doctors, she and her husband made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. She wrote, “As a woman, a mother and a lawyer, I know I did the right thing. I have shared my story with my children, and hope that should my daughter ever find herself in a position similar to mine, she will enjoy the same rights that were available to me.””

 

“…it should go without saying—but politicians have absolutely no place in such a deeply personal, extraordinarily difficult decision. Unfortunately, the Texas clinic shutdown law being challenged in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, a law that is driven by extreme, right-wing politicians who want to undermine women’s access to health care, would mean the exact opposite. This law—and laws like the one allowed to stand in Louisiana just last week—places burdens, that health experts like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say are medically unnecessary, on clinics in order to shut them down and make it harder for women to exercise their constitutionally protected reproductive rights.”

 

“If the Supreme Court fails to block this law, three-quarters of the clinics that provide abortion services, as well as other health care, in Texas would be forced to close, leaving the 5.4 million women in Texas with just ten clinics statewide. Hundreds of thousands of Texas women would have to drive 300 miles round trip just to get the care they need.”

 

“…if that isn’t an undue burden, I don’t know what is.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you.

 

“Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt.

 

“At its core this is a case about whether extreme, right wing politicians will be allowed to block women from exercising their constitutionally protected health care rights, rights that have been affirmed by the Supreme Court for more than four decades.

 

“So, M. President—for women across the country—and for our daughters and granddaughters—there is truly a lot at stake.

 

“And I have been so inspired to see women of all ages, from across the country, standing up to share their stories and make sure the Supreme Court knows why politicians shouldn’t be able to make women’s health care decisions.

 

“In fact, M. President, 113 lawyers submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court explaining the difference that constitutionally protected reproductive rights have made in their own lives.

 

“The stories they tell are incredibly powerful.

 

“One partner at a major law firm wrote that after three miscarriages, “…my husband and I were delighted when I again became pregnant in December 1999 and safely made it past the ‘danger zone’ of the first trimester, passing an amnio with flying colors. But “five weeks later, when I was heading into the sixth month of my pregnancy, I returned to the doctor for a routine ultrasound and the doctor immediately detected a problem.”

 

“Her baby had a rare heart defect, so severe he was already in congestive heart failure—and would be born only to suffer, if he survived at all.

 

“After talking with her doctors, she and her husband made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

 

“She wrote, “As a woman, a mother and a lawyer, I know I did the right thing. I have shared my story with my children, and hope that should my daughter ever find herself in a position similar to mine, she will enjoy the same rights that were available to me.”

 

“M. President—it should go without saying—but politicians have absolutely no place in such a deeply personal, extraordinarily difficult decision.  

 

“Unfortunately, the Texas clinic shutdown law being challenged in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, a law that is driven by extreme, right-wing politicians who want to undermine women’s access to health care, would mean the exact opposite.

 

“This law—and laws like the one allowed to stand in Louisiana just last week—places burdens, that health experts like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say are medically unnecessary, on clinics in order to shut them down and make it harder for women to exercise their constitutionally protected reproductive rights.

 

“If the Supreme Court fails to block this law, three-quarters of the clinics that provide abortion services, as well as other health care, in Texas would be forced to close, leaving the 5.4 million women in Texas with just ten clinics statewide.

 

“Hundreds of thousands of Texas women would have to drive 300 miles round trip just to get the care they need.

 

“M. President—if that isn’t an undue burden, I don’t know what is.

 

“And a ruling upholding the Texas clinic shutdown law wouldn’t just impact women in Texas—it would make it easier, nationwide, for politicians to interfere with women’s health care and block them from exercising their constitutional rights.

 

“That would be the wrong direction for women, for families, and for our country as a whole.

 

“And that’s why tomorrow women—and men—from all over the country will be outside the Supreme Court, standing up for women’s health, rights, and opportunity.

 

“And I’m going to be so proud to be right there with them because we’re going to be sending a very clear message: a right means nothing without the ability to exercise that right.

 

“M. President—I hope the Justices will listen and realize how much this ruling means to women’s lives.

 

“And ultimately, I hope they’ll rule in favor of ensuring women’s health and rights continue to progress—rather than going backward.

 

“I know our country will be stronger for it.

 

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”