Senate Democrats hosted pro-choice advocates at a hearing Tuesday to showcase what they described as chaos and life-threatening oppression of women since the Supreme Court overturned nationwide abortion rights.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony about women being denied non-pregnancy-related medications, flocking across state lines seeking abortion services and threatened with death from pregnancy complications.
“In overturning Roe, the Supreme Court has unleashed a health-care crisis across America,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the committee.
He warned that the women could now die from pregnancy complications while waiting for help in the halls of a hospital.
The committee’s Republicans said it was was nothing but alarmist rhetoric. They pointed out that abortion wasn’t outlawed by the high court’s ruling, only sent back to state legislatures to decide through the democratic process.
“The doomsday calls from those on the left are ignoring common sense,” said Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican.
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Denise Harle, counsel at the pro-life Alliance Defending Freedom who was invited by Republicans to testify, told the committee that overturning Roe v. Wade abortion rights corrected a ruling that had been “degrading” to women.
“Pregnancy is not a barrier to success,” she said. “You have no rights if you don’t have the right to life.”
Testifying on the pro-choice side were Democratic lawyers and representatives from Planned Parenthood.
Dr. Colleen P. McNicholas of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri told the committee that “mass chaos” erupted after the Supreme Court‘s decision.
She said people are being denied care for pregnancy and even non-pregnancy-related conditions. She said some non-pregnancy-related medicine is not being prescribed because it could induce miscarriages.
“When the consequence of violating a law is criminal, doctors are put in impossible positions,” said Dr. McNicholas.
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The hearing was one in a series of Capitol Hill events that congressional Democrats have scheduled to highlight abortion rights.
Meanwhile, the House Rules Committee took up the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 which would codify the right to an abortion and prohibit states from imposing limits on abortions.
The bill is expected to pass the House but will almost certainly die in the Senate, where the same legislation failed to pass in May.
President Biden last week signed an executive order directing Health and Human Services to report to him in 30 days with proposals, ensuring the administration could protect access to medication abortion and access to contraception.
However, the president has very limited options to override a Supreme Court decision. Changes to most abortion laws would have to come from Congress or state legislatures.
Progressives are pressuring the president and congressional Democrats to address the right to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the 1973 Roe decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Since the decision was handed down last month, several conservative states have moved to limit — or even bar — abortion.