Senate committee argues over state abortion laws

From left, Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Life for the Alliance Defending Freedom Denise Harle, UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Khiara Bridges, Alternatives Pregnancy Center Executive Director Heidi Matzke, and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri Chief Medical Officer Dr. Colleen McNicholas are sworn in to testify during a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to examine a post-Roe America, focusing on the legal consequences of the Dobbs decision, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

From left, Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Life for the Alliance Defending Freedom Denise Harle, UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Khiara Bridges, Alternatives Pregnancy Center Executive Director Heidi Matzke, and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri Chief Medical Officer Dr. Colleen McNicholas are sworn in to testify during a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to examine a post-Roe America, focusing on the legal consequences of the Dobbs decision, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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UPDATED 1:00 PM PT – Thursday, July 14, 2022

During a hearing on Tuesday, senators from both sides of the aisle heard testimony from healthcare providers about the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to implement their own abortion laws. Dr. Kristyn Brandi of Physicians for Reproductive Health told senators that state abortion bans were affecting how physicians treat patients, including withholding critical treatment.

“It’s incredibly hard to think about being in that position where I can’t intervene because I have to call my lawyer first to make sure that it’s okay,” Brandi vocalized. “Or that I’m going to wait, wait and wait until somebody gets sicker because I don’t know what that law means. We’re seeing that across the country. I’m hearing stories from all over from physicians that are withholding lifesaving care because they don’t want to go to jail. That’s really not how health care should work.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) described the high court’s ruling as “barbaric.”

“About one in 50 pregnancies in our country are ectopic,” Murray voiced. “That means they’re not viable and without medical action they are deadly. In Republican’s post-Roe world, health care providers aren’t sure when or even if they will be able to treat ectopic patients without being sent to prison. Some have already been instructed to observe patients until they have unstable vital signs before acting. Basically, sit on your hands until women are at dire risk before you can do what is medically necessary. That is absolutely barbaric.”

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) pushed back against her statement. He accused Democrats of using scare tactics and lying to American citizens about state’s who have laws banning abortion.

“Myth three, overturning Roe means health care professionals in hospitals cannot treat women with miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies or when the mom’s life is endangered,” Marshall said. “These are all scare tactics preying on the emotions of people. Listen, every state abortion law triggered by overturning Roe includes an exception to save the life of the mother. Treating miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are not the same as performing abortions. In fact, no abortion law in any state in America prevents treatment for women with ectopic pregnancies and or other life-threatening conditions.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) played the middle man by saying Congress would have to look at the issue further down the line.

“I think we’ve got to look at this again,” Murkowski stated. Again down the road. The balance of power in Congress moves back and forth. Without the filibuster do we really think, do we really believe that a different majority would not seek a nationwide ban on abortion and find a way to succeed in enacting it? The filibuster is really one of the few mechanisms that protects the rights of the minority. I raise this because I think we need to be looking long term at this.”

In the meantime, states remain split on their reaction to Roe’s end while the White House is expressing interest in declaring a health emergency to protect access to the procedure.

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