Durbin Questions Witnesses In Judiciary Committee Hearing On The Legal Consequences Of The Dobbs Decision

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned witnesses at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision.” Durbin questioned Dr. Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, on maternal mortality and the consequences of overturning Roe. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, before the Dobbs decision, states with the most restrictive abortion laws already had a seven percent higher maternal mortality rate than states with fewer restrictions.

“The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate of comparable nations… By ending the constitutional right to abortion, the Supreme Court has ensured the maternal mortality in the United States will increase. Tell me the practical side of this. The cases that you have run into as a practicing physician, where you had to make this life or death decision,” said Durbin.

Dr. McNicholas reiterated that the states with the highest maternal mortality rate are the states that immediately moved to ban abortion, and have historically imposed stricter abortion restrictions. She also stated that people could be denied care for pregnancy and non-pregnancy related conditions such as arthritis or cancer because they “might also contribute to miscarriage or could be used for abortion.” 

Durbin also questioned Khiara Bridges, Professor of Law at the University Of California Berkeley School of Law, on Justice Alito’s argument to overturn Roe, where he referenced the year 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified.  The Constitution did not fully reflect the views of the disenfranchised at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, as women could not vote and married women could not own property or enter into contracts. In 1868, not a single woman practiced law in the United States.

“You made a reference in your testimony to 1868, and used as an example when Justice Alito referred to the historical precedent that at that moment in American history, women were not legally entitled to vote. Could you comment again on this?” Durbin asked.

Professor Bridges responded that Justice Alito’s argument is outdated and should not be a precedent today.

Durbin also questioned Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton on maternal mortality and abortion access in Illinois. Lt. Governor Stratton reiterated that this decision will affect maternal mortality, and will have a disproportionate impact on women of color, lower income communities, immigrant women, and others.

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.