Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Continued Assault on Reproductive Freedoms in Post-Dobbs America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Continued Assault on Reproductive Freedoms in a Post-Dobbs America.”  The hearing will examine the continued and devastating fallout since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in June 2022 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Key Quotes:

“In the years leading up to Dobbs, we were warned about the dangers of overruling Roe v. Wade.  Medical experts told us it would unleash a health care crisis across America.  Legal experts warned it would establish a disastrous precedent under which unelected judges can recklessly eliminate fundamental freedoms.  And women across the country warned that overruling Roe would insert politicians and judges into the most personal decision imaginable, taking away their right to choose whether and how to expand their family.”

“The fallout of the Dobbs decision has been devastating. Women with non-viable, life-threatening pregnancies have been denied access to medical care—as we heard from Amanda Zurawski under oath at our last hearing.  Amanda’s testimony is seared in my memory.  Forced to continue a non-viable pregnancy due to Texas’s extreme anti-abortion laws, Amanda developed sepsis and nearly died.”

“… Just last month, a state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children under a state law, which resulted in numerous IVF clinics in the state halting services.  For those who desperately want a baby but struggle with infertility, for cancer patients who must safeguard future reproductive options as they undergo treatment, for LGBTQ+ couples who use IVF to expand their families—this ruling in Alabama was heartbreaking.”

“Today, we will hear from Jamie Heard, one Alabaman affected by this decision.  Despite state lawmakers’ slapdash efforts to address the fallout after the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision, there remain significant concerns about the future of IVF in that state and others.  ‘Fetal personhood bills’ have been introduced in at least a dozen other states, and 125 U.S. House Republicans have cosponsored ‘fetal personhood’ legislation with no carveout to protect access to IVF or birth control.  And Justice Thomas showed us that the constitutional right to birth control is at risk when—in his concurring opinion inDobbs—he called for the Court to reconsider its holding in Griswold v. Connecticut.”

“Women facing non-viable pregnancies are being denied emergency, life-saving medical treatment. Women suffering from miscarriages are being denied access to medication and procedures that can reduce emotional trauma and save their lives.  Rape and incest survivors are being victimized by a system that makes it harder for them to end an unwanted pregnancy.  Health care providers can no longer use their best medical judgment to treat patients.  And those who desperately want to become pregnant—but need IVF—are facing unnecessary barriers to parenthood.”

“Those of us who believe in a woman’s right to bodily autonomy need to step up and stop this chaos.  We must respect women’s rights to make their own reproductive health decisions.  But the question remains: will our Republican colleagues stand with their constituents and most Americans who support legal access to abortion and reproductive freedom?” 

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

This hearing follows two previous hearings the Committee has held on reproductive freedoms since Roe was overruled—one in July 2022 and one in April 2023.

Since Dobbs, the reproductive health care landscape in America has become more unsettled, resulting in women across the country—whether or not they live in states where abortion is restricted or banned—facing negative and sometimes life-threatening outcomes.  Furthermore, the Alabama Supreme Court’s recent decision ruling that frozen embryos are children now threatens access to assisted reproductive technology (ART)—including in vitro fertilization (IVF)—in that state.