On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties convened for a hearing on the “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America,” specifically focusing on abortion access in light of the abortion bans passed in Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama earlier this year, all of which severely restrict people’s ability to have safe abortion and are a direct confrontation to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which recognized abortion as a constitutional right.
Those present at the hearing included healthcare providers, reproductive health advocates, and women who shared their own abortion experiences. They encouraged the government to uphold Roe v. Wade and protect safe, legal abortions.
One of the women who testified was Busy Philipps, an activist and actress. In her statement, she recounts how she was able to get an abortion in Arizona at 15, something she could not do now due to parental consent laws. In Arizona, those under the age of 18 seeking an abortion require consent from their parents as well as a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure. These obstacles make abortion difficult for anyone, but especially for those who are minors.
Dr. Owen Phillips and Dr. Yashica Robinson, healthcare providers in Tennessee and Alabama respectively, were also called to discuss how recent laws and regulations make their job as abortion providers increasingly more difficult and limit abortion access in these states, as there are few clinics which meet the criteria. The regulations imposed on clinics go beyond what is necessary to provide their patients with the best standard of care. They regulate the clinic’s physical size and clinicians’ relationships with nearby hospitals.
These restrictions disparately affect women of color and low-income women who do not have the resources to travel, sometimes out of state, to seek abortions. For a person who works a minimum wage job, they have to secure time off, arrange childcare if necessary, and find someone who can take them to and from their appointment. If they are on Medicaid, they’ll also have to pay for the procedure out of pocket. While these are things people with more resources can arrange easily, they present a real barrier to those who lack material resources.
Media Resources: Busy Philipps Statement, 6/4/19; Guttmacher Institute, 6/1/19; Melissa Murray Statement, 6/4/19