June 21, 2023

One Year After Dobbs, Women and Families Are Bearing the Consequences

In the year since the Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade, ending a woman's fundamental right to reproductive freedom, we have seen the devastating physical, mental, and economic impact the decision has had on women and their families across the country. Pregnancy is complex, and it can be incredibly emotional, sometimes heartbreaking. As a mother and an adoption attorney for 25 years, I have seen this firsthand.

In Texas, Amanda Zurawski was denied a life-saving, medically necessary abortion for a wanted pregnancy because of a state law criminalizing abortion. She was forced to wait until she got so sick that she developed blood poisoning before doctors would provide appropriate care.

In Alabama, Kelly Shannon was denied abortion care despite the fact that her baby had a "negligible" chance of surviving the pregnancy or outside of the womb. The state district attorney has threatened to pursue criminal convictions for anyone in Alabama who performs an abortion.

In Tennessee, Mayron Hollis was forced to get an emergency hysterectomy, preventing her from having future children, after she was denied a medically necessary abortion for life-threatening complications in her wanted pregnancy. In Tennessee, performing an abortion is a felony.

We cannot leave women's health and reproductive freedom to the political whims of state legislatures. The stakes are too high, and women and their families are bearing the consequences on every level.

Yet, far-right politicians in Congress and across the country continue pushing for government control over women's health care. One of the very first votes the extreme Republican House majority forced this Congress was to further restrict abortion access nationwide, spreading harmful myths about abortion care and overlooking threats of violence to abortion providers and centers.

This legislation has real consequences for women and families and does irreparable damage to our country's health care system.

The majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the precedent of Roe v. Wade. And still, Republican politicians are pushing for more restrictions on abortion access.

Our country was founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom. That means the right to make personal, private medical decisions without government interference, regardless of where you live. We must enshrine the right to abortion access and reproductive freedom into law to ensure no one is denied the health care they need.

While far-right Republicans work to chip away at women's freedoms, the New Democrat Coalition, a group of nearly 100 moderate Democrats, is committed to protecting a woman's right to choose. As Chair of the Coalition, I'm personally dedicated to keeping the government out of our personal, private medical decisions.

We know denying access to reproductive health care hurts women across the board, from economic mobility to participation in the workforce. We saw over the last 50 years how access to abortion and family planning services enabled women to contribute to their communities fully. Now, in just one year, we are seeing how the erosion of that right has negatively impacted families.

That's why this year, Democrats took steps to ensure this fundamental freedom was protected. I was proud to help introduce the Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act, legislation to protect medication abortion access and safeguard health care providers' ability to prescribe it via telehealth.

But this bill alone is not enough. We are also launching a new effort to force a vote on the Women's Health Protection Actto establish the constitutional right to abortion, make the precedent set by Roe v. Wade the law of the land, and create other federal protections to secure personal freedom and medical privacy.

Scientists and medical experts should be the ones making the decisions about what treatment their patients need—not political appointees or elected officials. Politicians do not know better than millions of women and their doctors.

It's the job of every Member of Congress—Republican or Democrat—to protect the right of their constituents to access the health care they need without government interference, including abortion. One year after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health decision, I am more committed than ever to this fight.

Annie Kuster is a U.S. Congresswoman from New Hampshire and Chair of the New Democrat Coalition.

By:  NDC Chair Annie Kuster
Source: Newsweek