WASHINGTON — Witnesses told a U.S. House committee on Wednesday that pregnant patients who cannot obtain abortions will face higher death rates if they are forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
“It’s basically a death sentence,” Michele Bratcher Goodwin, chancellor’s law professor at the University of California, told lawmakers.
Democratic lawmakers in the states of Michigan and Georgia added that black, low-income pregnant patients would suffer from the recent US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the constitutional right to abortion.
“Put simply, we will ban access to (health) care,” said Renitta Shannon, a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives.
She said Georgians in rural areas are particularly vulnerable, as many lack broadband internet access, which would help them get information online about where to get abortions. They also face additional hurdles in getting transport to these clinics, she said.
Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Carolyn B. Maloney say it Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization The June 24 ruling “takes us back in time” and warned Republicans are pushing for a national abortion ban.
The New York Democrat added that House Democrats are doing everything they can to enshrine in Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights court ruling that was overturned, but there aren’t enough votes in the equally divided Senate to do so. The Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote later this week on abortion legislation.
Wednesday’s House hearing was one of four in Congress this week on abortion as lawmakers grapple with the impact of the court’s sweeping ruling on pregnant patients and healthcare providers. of abortion.
“When states coerce and force women, girls, and people capable of pregnancy to remain pregnant against their will, they create human goods and incubators for them,” Goodwin said in his testimony.
“There is an insidious and heinous irony in this, as Congress abolished human slavery in the United States and repealed bills that required young men to turn over their bodies to the state in order to protect our nation. “, she said.
“Today, with the coming into force of two dozen ‘trigger’ bans, involuntary reproductive servitude has returned, but only for capable pregnant women, girls and people.”
Maloney said the committee tried to get abortion providers to testify, but she said they were afraid they would face violence if they spoke in front of Congress.
Threats against judges
Republicans on the committee focused on threats against conservative Supreme Court justices who backed the Dobbs decision.
Abortion rights protesters marched past the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. A man with a gun was arrested near Kavanaugh’s home and later charged with attempting to murder a Supreme Court justice, the Guardian reported. reported.
The committee’s top Republican, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, said Democrats were “sowing fear” of the Dobbs decision and criticized them for not speaking out against attacks on “crisis pregnancy centers.”
These non-profit organizations look like real health care clinics, but are used to persuade pregnant patients not to have abortions.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, said Democrats have always spoken out against violence and called on Republicans not to recognize the 11 people who were murdered at abortion centers or the 186 arson attacks at those centers.
“You have very selective memories,” she said.
Speier also shared that she needed an abortion after having a miscarriage and had to wait several days to have the procedure.
“I can’t begin to tell you, having wanted this fetus to become a baby and knowing it was dead in my body, and I had to walk around with it,” Speier said.
Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, said the abortion ban not only affects women, but also non-binary people and transgender men, who can get pregnant.
Bush said she was concerned about the criminalization of people who request and provide abortions. She asked Shannon what steps were being taken in Georgia to prevent this.
Shannon said local prosecutors have announced that “they will not use public funds to investigate people who have had abortions.”
GOP dismisses health risks
Several witnesses said that the lack of access to abortion would put pregnant patients at risk of death. Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, dismissed those concerns.
“I find it interesting when we talk about a hypothetical situation where you take the life of the mother when they actually take the life of the baby,” she said. “We live in a brave new world right now.”
The United States has one of highest maternal mortality rate 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. That number jumps when looking specifically at black maternal mortality, in which the rate is 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Foxx asked the witness wiretapped by Republicans, Erin Morrow Hawley, senior attorney to the Alliance Defending Freedom, if the anti-abortion movement was also “pro-women”. Hawley is married to Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri.
“Babies can also be women, so it’s definitely pro-women in that sense,” Hawley said.
She argued that access to abortion should not be considered health care. She said “health conditions that could have been fatal to the mother 50 years ago can now be quickly diagnosed and treated, with public and private resources to cover the costs if necessary.”
Mallory McMorrow, a Democratic state senator from Michigan, said abortion is still legal in her state because of a preliminary injunction that blocks enforcement of a 1931 law that would ban abortion.
“The way the language is written, our Attorney General has warned that the law could be interpreted to include self-directed medical abortions – which means that not only doctors and medical professionals would be sent to prison, but also of countless women and girls,” she said.
She added later in the hearing that a D&C procedure she underwent after an IUD punctured her uterus saved her life and said she feared others might don’t have the same access to that care that she had.
Another witness, Sarah Lopez from Texas, said she had to go through several stages to get her abortion, including a waiting period.
“My abortion was the best decision I’ve ever made, and it was an act of self-love,” she said.