Cantwell on 50th Anniversary of Roe: “We Are Not Going to Play Defense. We Are Going to Play Offense.”

WA providers report surge in out-of-state patients seeking reproductive care; Cantwell: Roe v. Wade “was settled law for 50 years. The only unsettling thing here is that Republicans think they can get away with it.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democratic Senate colleagues and abortion rights advocates to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and to call on Congress to codify reproductive rights into federal law.

“The Supreme Court ruling has affected our state's health care delivery system. It has affected patients and doctors,” Sen. Cantwell said. “After Roe v. Wade fell, [Pullman] Planned Parenthood in Eastern Washington reported the number of patients from Idaho jumping up to 78%. This is now an ongoing crisis for our state's reproductive health care system. People in Idaho are not going to stop getting pregnant, and they are not going to stop seeking the best medical care. They are going to cross our borders.”

“Some states are now imposing penalties or jail sentences on doctors who perform abortions. Our medical providers wonder if their own health insurance will be subject to challenges because of the cost of continuing to providing this care,” Sen. Cantwell continued. “They should not be penalized just for providing this help. We need safe abortions.”

Sunday, Jan. 22, marked the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established the standard for reproductive rights in the United States.

In June, after a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court’s plans to overturn that established precedent, Sen. Cantwell cosponsored the My Body, My Data Act to protect personal reproductive health data.

In July, following a meeting with health care providers at the University of Washington Medical Center, Sen. Cantwell cosponsored the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to ban anti-choice states from penalizing or prosecuting health care providers that offer reproductive services in states where abortion care is legal. The same month, Sen. Cantwell also cosponsored the Right to Contraception Act, which would codify the right to contraception access established by the Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut. 

“The United States Senate needs to act. We are not going to play defense. We are going to play offense,” Sen. Cantwell said at today’s press conference. “This is a constitutional right to privacy that previous courts clearly outlined, and was settled law for 50 years. The only unsettling thing here is that Republicans think they can get away with it.”

Speakers at the press conference included Senators Cantwell, Schumer, Murray, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju; Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Medical Director Dr. Serina Floyd; National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association President & CEO Clare Coleman; and Planned Parenthood Patient Advocate Kelley Huber.

Video of Sen. Cantwell’s speech is available HERE and audio is available HERE. A transcript of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks can be read HERE.

Video of Sen. Murray’s speech is available HERE, audio HERE.

Photos of the event are available HERE. A livestream of the full event can be found HERE.