Sen. Hirono Slams Republican ‘Attack on Women’s Reproductive Rights’

April 9, 2019, 1:56 PM HST (Updated April 9, 2019, 3:49 PM)
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During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono spoke out against anti-choice legislation that would outlaw abortion after 20 weeks, with very limited exceptions. The bill, S. 160, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), is a blatant violation of women’s reproductive rights as established by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.

From Sen. Hirono’s Remarks:

“If the people supporting these laws really care about protecting women and families, they would acknowledge that banning abortion results in more women dying. More women dying, which we know from the highly-regarded Turnaway Study conducted at the University of California. And if they were interested in making the lives of children better, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to get rid of the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and Medicaid.

“Nearly half of U.S. births are covered by Medicaid and about 30 million children are covered by the program. Yet Medicaid is under continual assault by Republicans.”

Sen. Hirono went on to highlight the proposed $1.5 trillion cut by President Trump in his most recent budget proposal, and the importance of the ACA for providing coverage of an additional 2.8 million children – providing an over 40% reduction in the nation’s uninsured children.

Sen. Hirono continued:

“You know, for all of the strong support for bills like this, I would like to see equally strong support for programs that support children and families who are here are now, rather than slashing the HHS budget and $250 million for Preschool Development Grants that support State early learning initiatives.

“Rather than taking away Title X funds that are so important to my constituents in Hawaii and elsewhere.

“Not cutting funding for the Education Department by 10 percent and eliminating $6.7 billion in federal funding for after-school, before-school, and summer learning programs; teacher training and professional development programs; school library literacy programs; and programs that help low-income students achieve higher education.

“Or not supporting policies that leave guns in the hands of future school shooters and policies that force children into cages at the border.

“The word hypocritical doesn’t even begin to cover what is happening to women and children across our country.”

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S. 160 would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks. The bill allows for exceptions only to save the life of the mother or if the mother is a victim of incest or rape. No exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s health was at risk or if the fetus had a severe condition making survival unlikely or impossible. The legislation includes a penalty of up to five years in prison for health care providers who perform abortions after 20 weeks that do not meet the bill’s narrow exceptions.

Testimony from Dr. Valerie Peterson made clear the impact of bills like S. 160. Dr. Peterson shared her story of making the decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy after receiving a diagnosis that meant her son would not be able to survive childbirth. Dr. Peterson explained how Texas’ abortion restrictions—including a ban on almost all pregnancies after 20 weeks—meant she had to travel out of state to receive her abortion. Dr. Peterson pointed out that because her pregnancy was high-risk, she had frequent ultrasounds and learned about the fetal abnormality earlier in her pregnancy, but she worries about what would happen under S. 160 to women who don’t learn about problems until much later. Under S. 160, women in these situations would be forced to carry to term, something Dr. Peterson said would have had “traumatic emotional and physical consequences” on both her and her children.

Earlier this Congress, Sen.Hirono took the U.S. Senate floor to oppose similar anti-choice legislation and condemn inflammatory rhetoric demonizing women who have sought abortions, as well as the anti-women policies of the Republican party.

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