House, Senate committees hold hearings on impact of Roe vs. Wade reversal

The House and Senate on Wednesday held hearings examining the impact of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 5 | The House and Senate on Wednesday held hearings examining the impact of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

July 13 (UPI) -- House and Senate committees on Wednesday heard testimony about the impact the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade has had in states that have moved to restrict abortion access.

The hearings placed a focus on states that have banned or may soon move to ban abortions after the Supreme Court last month ruled 6-3 to end federal abortion protections provided by Roe vs. Wade in its ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization.


In her opening statement, House oversight committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said that "Republicans are not going to stop with Dobbs" stating that Republican lawmakers "are openly planning to impose a national ban on abortion," which she said would cause "inconceivable" damage.

"As we hear about the impact of the loss of abortion rights today, I would like to ask those watching our hearing a simple question: Is this the country we want for our children?" Maloney said. "Do we want a country where our children have fewer rights than we did? Or do we want to live in a country that respects and trusts women to make the best choices for themselves and their families? The answer is clear. Americans overwhelmingly support the right to abortion."


Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the House oversight committee's ranking member, countered that the Dobbs ruling "did not outlaw abortion" but instead sent the issue back to the states and accused Democrats of "seeking to intimidate through veiled threats."

In a separate hearing, Senate health, education labor and pensions committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., countered the notion that the ruling simply put the question of abortion access back in the hands of state lawmakers.

"Republicans are still trying to push this ridiculous, ridiculous, patently false notion that they aren't oppressing women so much as leaving it to states and local officials and politicians to oppress them," Murray said. "That's dishonest. They know full well many women are not able to travel. They don't have time off. They don't have childcare and they don't have the funds."

The House committee heard testimony from Democratic Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, whose state has a so-called "trigger law" from 1931 on the books that would make providing an abortion a felony, with no exception for age, rape or incest.

McMorrow testified that while abortion is currently still legal in the state due to a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the trigger law, "the impacts on the ground in Michigan are already and will continue to be devastating."


"I've had women reach out to me afraid of even trying to get pregnant knowing they're at higher risk of a complicated pregnancy and devastated to think of what might happen if it doesn't go exactly right," she said.

Georgia state Rep. Renitta Shannon, also a Democrat, testified about her experience getting an abortion 20 years ago stating that "the barriers to accessing abortion care have only increased" in the decades since.

"The Dobbs decision will amount to structural violence for many communities, but most egregiously for Black, Brown, Indigenous people of color and people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and people living at the intersection of these identities who have already sustained centuries of oppression and lack of access to reproductive freedom," Shannon said.

National Women's Law Center President Fatima Gross Graves testified that the Supreme Court ruling has caused "legal uncertainty and chaos," leaving clinics, healthcare professionals and those seeking abortions "vague and evolving and even sometimes conflicting state laws."

Dr. Kristyn Brandi, of Physicians for Reproductive Health, testified during the Senate hearing that state abortion bans have impacted how physicians treat patients, including leading some to withhold critical treatment because they fear jail time.

"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. Or that I'm going to wait, wait and wait until somebody gets sicker because I don't know what that law means," she said.


Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Erin Hawley, the wife of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the only witness called by Republicans and described Roe as "terrible constitutional law."

Hawley added that there is "no such thing as an unwanted child" while saying many companies are "eager" to help employees pay to end their pregnancies but questioned whether they are also willing to pay for diapers and childcare or provide flexible work schedules.

The House is set to vote this week on a pair of bills to codify abortion rights provided under Roe and bar states from preventing women from traveling to other states to seek abortions.

Demonstrators pray outside U.S. Supreme Court, praise rulings on prayer, abortion

Faith Adams of Bangor, Maine, kneels in prayer at a praise and worship service outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on June 27, days after the court ruled to overturn the Roe vs. Wade abortion case. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines