Durbin: It’s Now Up To Congress To Protect Women And Health Care Providers From The Results Of The Disastrous Dobbs Ruling

Ahead of the one year anniversary of the Dobbs ruling, Durbin delivers speech on the Senate floor

WASHINGTON – Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke on the Senate floor about the dangerous consequences for women and the doctors who care for them post-Dobbs.  Two months ago, Durbin held a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America.”

Durbin said, “We had originally intended to hold our hearing closer to the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs ruling.  But growing reports of the chaos and harm caused by that decision were so alarming that we decided to move up our fact-finding to two months ago.” 

During his speech, Durbin highlighted one of the witnesses—Amanda Zurawski—who explained how delaying access to an abortion while she was miscarrying led to life-threatening complications.  To her shock, her doctors told Amanda that they could not treat her until her baby’s heart stopped beating or until Amanda was sick enough for the hospital’s ethics board to deem that her life was at risk because of Texas’s new anti-abortion laws.  Amanda told the Committee, “People have asked why we didn’t get on a plane or in our car to go to a state where the laws aren’t so restrictive.  But we live in the middle of Texas, and the nearest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least an eight-hour drive.  Developing sepsis—which can kill quickly—in a car in the middle of the West Texas desert, or 30,000 feet above the ground, is a death sentence, and it’s not a choice we should have had to even consider. So all we could do was wait.”

According to a new survey, nearly two-thirds of OB-GYNs say the Dobbs ruling has worsened maternal mortality rates in the United States, which were already the worst of any wealthy nation.  According to the KFF, formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation, 70 percent say the ruling had deepened racial disparities in maternal and infant health.  

During his speech, Durbin highlighted the continued assaults on reproductive health care following theDobbs decision.  By erasing the constitutional right to abortion, the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority opened the floodgates for new laws restricting and even criminalizing abortion.  Doctors and health care providers across the country are unsure if they can legally provide essential care from one week to the next.   Even mifepristone, a drug that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved more than 20 years ago as safe and effective for use in medication abortions is at risk because anti-abortion activists are now seeking to ban its use in every state by bringing a specious lawsuit in federal court.

“With the first anniversary of this ruling upon us, those warnings [about the effect of overruling Roe v. Wade] have come true.  Just 100 days after the Dobbs decision, 22 million American women of reproductive age—almost one in three women—found themselves living in states where abortion is now illegal or highly restricted.  Abortion is now completely banned in 14 states, leaving large swaths of the country without care.  Some statewide bans include jail time for health care providers who perform abortions.  And make no mistake:  Unless we act, more – and more severe – restrictions are coming.  The last year has exposed the true aim of anti-choice extremists:   They seek a national abortion ban,” Durbin continued. 

Durbin said, “The impact of abortion restrictions in any state are felt well beyond that state’s own borders.  In my state, largely as a consequence of near-total bans in many surrounding states, the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood facilities in Illinois increased by 54 percent last year.  That increase was driven largely by women from out of state seeking access to abortion that is now outlawed in their own states.  As a result, wait times to obtain an abortion have increased dramatically in our state.” 

According to the National Abortion Federation, last year saw a huge increase in violence at abortion clinics.  In Danville, Illinois, a man rammed his car into a building that was being renovated to serve as an abortion clinic.     

Durbin continued, “Personal decisions about health care should be made by individuals and their doctors, not by politicians with an ideological agenda.  That is why I strongly support the four measures that my Democratic colleagues have offered today to protect women’s right to travel to receive health care, protect patients’ data privacy, protect health care providers’ ability to provide abortions in states where it is legal, and protect the right to contraception.  It's hard to imagine in 2023 that we are actually facing the prospect of losing a woman's right to contraception as well as access to reproductive health care.” 

“The Dobbs ruling has sown chaos, fear, and division, it has usurped doctors’ rights to make the best health care decisions for their patients… stripped women of their right to make their own health care decisions, and given the power to make those decisions to politicians.  It is now up to Congress to protect women and health care providers from the results of this disastrous ruling,” Durbin said.    

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here. 

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.