WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned witnesses during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the devastating fallout since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in June 2022.  “The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America” is the first hearing focused on reproductive rights in the House or the Senate this Congress.  

Durbin began by sharing his sympathy for one of today’s witnesses, Amanda Zurawski.  Ms. Zurawski lives in Austin, Texas, and testified to how delaying access to an abortion while she was miscarrying led to life-threatening complications.  She is the lead plaintiff in Zurawski vs. State of Texas, in which five Texas women were denied abortion care and, as a result, faced risks to their health, fertility, and lives.

“Ms. Zurawski, I can’t remember testimony as compelling or as forceful as yours, and I do this for a living.  When I heard your story, as you presented it, I thought for a moment, ‘What would I feel like if you were my daughter going through this?’  The joy of a possible grandchild that’s been erased and now you’re struggling to live.   And now an arbitrary, political obstacle to saving your life.  At some point, you had to be so sick and near death before they finally would agree to terminate the pregnancy,” Durbin said.  “As you listen to the testimony from witnesses who share your feelings and don’t, what was your reaction?”

Ms. Zurawski said, “It gives me a lot of hope to know that there are people like you, and like some of my fellow witnesses, who are fighting for safe and accessible health care.  But it is also infuriating to know that there are people who think what happened to me was okay and that it should have happened and that it should continue to happen.”

Durbin then asked Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine, about data privacy and the possibility that women are going to be tracked as to whether they visited an abortion clinic out-of-state and penalized by their home state.

“Is that a possibility?” Durbin asked Professor Goodwin. 

Professor Goodwin noted that it is a possibility and that abortion is being used as a proxy to dismantle fundamental constitutional principles, including the right to travel.

Finally, Durbin asked Professor Goodwin to respond to a minority witness’s point about the number of African American women seeking abortions. 

Professor Goodwin noted that a Black woman in Mississippi is 118 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion.  She said, “There is a reason why Black women in Mississippi have sought to be able to terminate pregnancies: for their own bodily autonomy, for their own safety, for their own health.  Mississippi is one of the deadliest places, not just in the country to be pregnant, but it’s one of the deadliest places in all of the industrialized world to be pregnant.”

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

Today’s hearing follows the full committee hearing Durbin held in July 2022 entitled, “A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision.”