September 28, 2022

Duckworth, Murray, Blumenthal, Hirono, Escobar Rally with Servicemembers and Veterans to Defend Their Access to Reproductive Care as Republicans Continue Attacks


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – As Republicans continue to push forward their proposal to ban abortion nationwide and attack the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ historic action to provide abortion care for Veterans in certain circumstances, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—along with U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) as well as U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16)—condemned Republicans’ barbaric efforts to restrict abortion and made clear they won’t stop working to protect reproductive rights for our Veterans and servicemembers so they can get the healthcare services they need when and where they need it. The lawmakers made these calls at a press conference today with #UniformAccess, a coalition of various advocacy groups for women Veterans. A full livestream of the press conference can be found here. Photos from the press conference can be found here.

“By actively pushing forward federal abortion bans, elected officials like Lindsey Graham are effectively ‘thanking’ our women Veterans and servicemembers for their sacrifices by telling them what they can or cannot do with the bodies they’ve already risked time and again for our country,” said Senator Duckworth. “Just as I made my own decision about my own body when I signed up to go to war, I’m proud to join my colleagues today to spread the message far and wide: we need to hurry up and do more to protect reproductive rights for our nation’s heroes. Every woman in America deserves the basic human right to choose what to do with her own body—and not just when it’s convenient for some men in fancy suits in hallowed halls in DC.”

"Taking away life-saving care from veterans and attacking VA doctors should just be unthinkable. It should be unthinkable that any politician would put their own political ideology ahead of the well-being of our veterans—unthinkable that anyone would be willing to jeopardize the health of those who served our country in uniform,” said Senator Murray. “But Republicans have become so extreme and entrenched on abortion, that it was their first thought after President Biden’s announcement. Well, we aren’t having it. Democrats are pushing back, and pushing to protect the health care and the rights of everyone in uniform.”

“Today should be the beginning of a campaign to make sure that women veterans get the healthcare that they need and deserve. It’s not only a matter of fundamental freedom, it’s a matter of equity. If you are in active duty, you get contraceptives without a copay. If you have private insurance, you get contraceptives without a copay. If you are in the VA, you have to pay that copay. That’s wrong. Women are the fastest growing group of veterans enrolling in VA healthcare. They deserve contraceptives without a copay. The Equal Access to Contraceptives for Veterans Act’s time has come,” said Senator Blumenthal.

"Access to abortion and reproductive healthcare is a right everyone deserves—in or out of our country's uniform," said Congresswoman Escobar. "Draconian abortion laws degrade morale, affect retention, and weaken our overall readiness. For every servicemember, every veteran, and the Armed Forces as a whole, we must continue the fight for reproductive justice.”

Duckworth has made protecting and expanding access to essential reproductive healthcare a top priority. Recently, she joined U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to condemn Republican attacks on the Biden Administration’s landmark decision to allow the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to provide abortion care to Veterans and their eligible dependents to protect the health and life of the woman and in cases of rape or incest. 

In August, she helped introduce the Reproductive Healthcare Accessibility Act to help ensure women with disabilities—who face discrimination and extra barriers when seeking care—can access reproductive services and get the informed care they need to have control over their own reproductive lives. In July, she helped introduced the Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would codify the fundamental and constitutional right to contraception, just days after writing to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.

In May, she visited Hope Clinic in Granite City, IL, and met with Director Erin King and staff to share her support for ensuring Americans everywhere can access safe and necessary healthcare. Weeks later, she helped introduce a resolution opposing the criminalization of the full range of reproductive and sexual healthcare, including abortion, gender-affirming care and contraceptive care. The resolution also disapproves of the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes. Also in May, she voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), legislation that would help protect women’s constitutional right to choose, which was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans. In a speech on the Senate floor, she shared her support of Americans’ reproductive rights and urged her colleagues to pass the WHPA. Additionally, Duckworth is the lead sponsor of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Healthcare (EACH) Act, which would end the Hyde Amendment and lift unjust abortion coverage restrictions for those who depend on Medicaid and other government-sponsored plans.