Wednesday, July 13, 2022 — Rep Carolyn B. Maloney of New York’s 12th district and Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform hosted a hearing focused on the impacts on those living in states which have already banned or restricted access to abortion in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health to reverse Roe v Wade. This is the second of five related Congressional hearings scheduled over eight days and follows the Senate Judiciary’s Tuesday examination of the legal implications following the ruling.
Throughout the five and a half-hour hearing, over twenty representatives from both sides of the House spoke and questioned five witnesses: Sen. Mallory McMorrow of Michigan; Rep. Renitta Shannon of Georgia; Fatima Goss Graves, the President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center; Michele Bratcher Goodwin, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine Law School, and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School; Sarah Lopez, an advocate with We Testify; and minority witness Erin Morrow Hawley, wife to Josh Hawley, former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current Senior Council Member with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Of the six female witnesses, four are women of color, and three had received abortions under Roe.
“In Mississippi, a Black woman is 118 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion,” law professor and medical lecturer Goodwin noted. She went on to solidify that the state bans rolling out in the weeks since abortion became a state right have a uniquely high impact on already marginalized pregnant people: those of color, lower-income people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially. In Mississippi, Black women have maternal mortality rates over 3x that of their white counterparts and represent 80% of deaths due to cardiac arrest in pregnancy.
In her opening statement, Chairwoman Maloney focused on the wide-reaching effects of the Dobbs decision beyond physical health.
“Abortion is now illegal for an estimated 33 million women across the country. Doctors and patients in these states are afraid and confused about what this radical decision means for providing and receiving critical health care. Women are worried about having miscarriages or pregnancy complications, for fear that they may be investigated or prosecuted for getting the care they need,” she explained, stressing the importance of pushing the Women’s Health Protection act through the Senate and expanding the accessibility of abortion medication.
Representative Katie Porter cited the University of California, San Francisco’s Turnaway Study, which examines the long-term impacts to women denied abortion care. Women restricted from abortion on average face worse physical and mental health, higher rates of unemployment, and lower credit than their counterpoints who are able to access care, with greater hardships falling on those already struggling economically or living in more rural areas without access to OBGYNs.
The Congressional hearings on Dobbs are set to continue through July 21st, to be hosted by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, House Judiciary, and House Energy and Commerce committees.
Watch the full hearing: The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision on Abortion Rights and Access Across the U.S.