Updated Jul 14, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on what's next for women's health and access to care

On Thursday, July 14th, Axios health care editor Tina Reed and congressional reporter Alayna Treene led conversations examining the future for reproductive health care in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Guests included Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and American Medical Association president Dr. Jack Resneck.

Sen. Tina Smith explained how the impacts of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade are being felt in Minnesota and the viable options lawmakers are considering to address reproductive health.

  • On pressures providers are facing in Minnesota amid increasing demand: “Minnesota is an island surrounded by states where people are losing that right all around us. That puts incredible pressure on providers and clinics in Minnesota that are trying to meet that need. So what I’m hearing from providers is a determination to try to do everything that they can to help people who made the decision to terminate their pregnancies, but also realizing that it’s going to be very difficult to meet that need.”
  • On options Democrats are considering to address abortion protections: “We are pressing the administration to use all of its executive authorities, and they have been moving on that. Senator Warren and I have urged the administration to consider declaring a public health emergency in addition to all of the very excellent things that they’ve already done. We are dramatizing and bringing forth the issues in the Senate. We need two more senators in the United States Senate that are prepared to put the protections of Roe into law and overturn the filibuster rule so that we can do that with 50 or 51 votes. And, state elections and local elections are incredibly important as well right now.”

Rep. Nancy Mace discussed the varying viewpoints on the spectrum of pro-choice and pro-life belief systems, legislation she’s planning to introduce with Sen. Marco Rubio that focuses on family services resources and exceptions in pro-life legislation.

  • On the varying degrees of pro-life and pro-choice views: “South Carolina is one of the few states in the country that did a fetal heartbeat bill and signed it into law that had exceptions for women who’ve been raped or women who were victims of incest and life of the mother, because when I was a state lawmaker, I put those exceptions in that legislation. And so when we’re talking about the spectrum of pro-life…there are variances, and I think you see that on the left as well, whether someone is pro-choice after 15 or 20 weeks or up until birth, there’s varying degrees of pro-choice, the same with pro-life.”
  • On her proposed legislation that would compile available family planning and health care resources for pregnant individuals to access: “And particularly with overturning Roe v. Wade, we want to make sure that especially in places and states that are going to ban abortion, that women have access to family planning services, in particular keeping their child or putting a child up for adoption. When we’re having this conversation about Roe v. Wade or life or choice, we’ve got to make sure that women have access to health care, medical care, prenatal care, that they have access to birth control.”

Dr. Jack Resneck described what he’s hearing from doctors about how Roe v. Wade being overturned is impacting how they treat patients and what the decision could mean for U.S. maternal mortality rates.

  • On confusion among doctors in providing abortions in cases of complicated or life-threatening pregnancies: “In some of those cases, abortion or pregnancy termination is the only safe way forward to protect the health and life of that patient. The physicians are literally having to call hospital attorneys who are telling them things like, ‘well, you have to wait until there's a higher chance of death before you can intervene in that case.’ So we’re just seeing extraordinary, extreme examples where patients’ lives are being put at risk.”
  • On expectations for the impact of abortion restrictions on U.S. maternal mortality rates: “We have high maternal mortality in this country and particularly high maternal mortality in Black and other minoritized and marginalized populations. And our fear is that this sort of constriction of decision-making and criminalizing of care is actually going to worsen that, it might make some people more fearful of getting the care they need.”
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