Why I Testified Against Neil Gorsuch (full testimony below)
I’m speaking on behalf of abortion providers, women’s health, rights and justice advocates, and the people we serve all across the country who deserve access to quality healthcare, delivered with dignity and respect.
I am the founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. As a company, we were the lead plaintiff in last year’s landmark Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. I have personally witnessed how decisions made at the high court directly impact the lives of women. I know what happens when politicians find devious ways to deny women’s constitutional rights, and why it is so important to have independent jurists who respect precedent and the rule of law.
I am gravely concerned about the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, Whole Woman’s Health joined with 54 other reproductive health, rights and justice organizations in a letter to the Senate opposing Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.
The Supreme Court has reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal in the United States for four decades. This hasn’t stopped legislators across the country from establishing roadblocks for women seeking abortion care. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 330 restrictive laws have been passed since 2010.
The laws’ impact hit the state of Texas especially hard. Anti-abortion legislators passed HB2 in 2013, shuttering over half the state’s clinics. The law resulted in women being forced to drive hundreds of miles, even across state lines, to access their right to safe and legal abortion. In some cases, the hurdles were so high women simply took matters into their own hands.
I will never forget the woman who called us from South Texas right after the law went into effect. We told her our clinic had been forced to close, and she now had to drive 250 miles each way to San Antonio. She told us there was no way she could take two days off work, find childcare and the money to drive that far. She said “I will tell you what is in my medicine cabinet and can you tell me how I can do my own abortion?”
In our country, where abortion has been legal for more than 40 years, no woman should be forced to take matters into her own hands. Nor should she fear criminalization or jail time if she does.
Would Neil Gorsuch support unnecessary obstacles to our constitutional rights? We need to know.
I also remember the woman who called from West Texas — where every single clinic had been shut down. She too was a single, working mother with three children. We helped her find a clinic, raised money for her abortion, childcare, transportation and her lost wages. By the time she made it to a Dallas clinic eight weeks later, it was too late to have an abortion in the state of Texas.
Would Neil Gorsuch support laws that limit our constitutional rights to our zip codes? We need to to know.
Last year we took Texas to the Supreme Court and we won; in the final ruling the court called out these and other clinic closure laws for what they are — sham laws that create obstacles to care with no medical basis behind them.
Sadly, even with our victory, this fight has not ended. Women need to know that if their rights are once again on trial. We need to assure that they will be served by justices who are not beholden to an ideological agenda.
We know President Trump’s litmus test was a justice who would overturn Roe V. Wade. Judge Gorsuch has refused to answer basic questions about his stance on Roe, Whole Woman’s Health, or the right to privacy.
Yet we know in the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah vs. Gary Herbert case, Gorsuch sided with politicians using misinformation and false claims to defund women’s health services. And in the Hobby Lobby Vs. Sebelius contraception case, he supported the notion that corporations are people.
If he would allow politicians to play games with our reproductive rights, how will he treat other rights that come before him?