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Video: Kaine Emphasizes Need to Protect Reproductive Freedom in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, highlighted in a HELP hearing how the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision created a health care crisis for patients, providers, and the country. In the hearing, Kaine emphasized that in the wake of the Dobbs decision, Virginia has become the last southern state with access to reproductive care, and called for congressional action to protect access to reproductive freedom, including contraception and assisted reproductive technology.

The hearing came as Senate Democrats begin a series of actions on the Senate floor to protect Americans’ ability to receive reproductive care, beginning with a vote tomorrow on a bill Kaine cosponsored to codify the right to contraception.

Broadcast-quality video of Kaine’s remarks during the hearing are available here.

During the hearing, Kaine asked Destiny Lopez, the Acting co-CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, about how abortion bans have strained the capabilities of clinics in states that still have reproductive access. Restrictions in other states have also increased wait times in Virginia. After the Florida 6-week ban went into effect on May 1, 2024, wait times in Virginia increased by 50% compared to the previous month.

“We're the last state in the south, the last state in the south that really still provides women – and all – the rights that Roe guaranteed to them for half a century,” said Kaine. “Ms. Lopez, you alluded to this in your testimony, but there's an unusual burden in these instances where states, like Virginia, are protecting reproductive freedom, but surrounded by others that aren't…[Could you] talk a little bit about the burden with this patchwork of some states protecting women’s reproductive freedom and many states not?”

“Now, one in five abortion seekers are traveling outside of their state to places like Virginia to seek care,” said Lopez. “…for our providers, that increases the number of patients are getting, so both the residents that they're serving within their own state, and now this influx in patients, which means that there's going to be an increased waiting time. So if you think about all the barriers that someone having to leave their home community, figure out how they're going to pay for the procedure, take off work, find child care – because most people who seek abortion are also parents themselves – go to an unfamiliar place, probably have to wait, and then also have costs on the ground, the financial, logistical, and ultimately, the emotional barriers are ridiculous and sometimes insurmountable. And ultimately could be forcing some people to carry pregnancies to term.”

Kaine also asked Lopez about how the Dobbs decisions threatens other rights beyond abortion, including access to contraception, IVF and other important health care services. He noted that legislation was recently vetoed in Virginia that would have protected access to contraception, despite overwhelming support for the commonsense measure in the state legislature.  

“Not just contraception, but efforts to defund Planned Parenthood continue, to limit or defund Title X, access to contraception for everyone, other restrictions on minors access to care, IVF,” said Lopez. “Those are all interrelated, and all efforts to limit, restrict – limit access to basic reproductive health care.”

Kaine has long championed efforts to protect reproductive freedom. Kaine introduced the bipartisan Reproductive Freedom For All Act to codify the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade and protect Americans’ access to abortion and contraception.

“I think we need a national protection,” Kaine said. “I have a bipartisan bill that would protect both Griswold and Roe, and restore to where we are, pre-Dobbs, and make plain that your rights shouldn't depend on what zip code you live in, your rights shouldn’t depend on who your state legislature is.”

He is also a sponsor of the Right to Contraception Act, which the Senate will vote on tomorrow. In May, Kaine also introduced the Access to Birth Control Act to guarantee timely access to contraceptives at pharmacies nationwide. He also introduced the Convenient Contraception Act to improve access to contraceptives last year.