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Schatz, Schumer, Senate Democrats Host Press Conference Highlighting Reproductive Rights Ahead Of SOTU

Washington, D.C. – With their invited guests to President Biden’s State of the Union Address, Senate Democrats hosted a press conference to continue to call attention to the dangers of abortion bans. Senate Democrats’ State of the Union guests include women who were forced to travel out of state to receive lifesaving abortion care due to abortion bans, abortion clinic directors, providers, and moms who relied on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to start their families. Senate Democrats are laser-focused on restoring Roe and the right to abortion nationwide and will continue taking the case directly to the American people, who overwhelmingly support abortion rights.

At the press conference along with their SOTU guests were U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and his guest Olivia Manayan, MD MPH; Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his guests Kate Farley and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson; U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and her guest Kayla Smith; and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and her guest Amanda Adeleye; Watch the press conference HERE.

Right now, 21 states ban abortion or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade—including 14 states that enforce total bans on abortion care. Approximately 1 in 3 women of reproductive age now live in a state with an abortion ban. Maternal health care has suffered tremendously in states that have banned or restricted abortion care and made it harder to attract new OBGYNs to the field, and the Dobbs decision greatly exacerbated America’s existing maternal mortality crisis as maternal and infant death rates are higher in states that ban or restrict abortion. A report from the Gender Equity Policy Institute found that women in states with abortion bans are nearly three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or soon after giving birth.

Senator Brian Schatz invited Olivia Manayan, MD MPH, an OB-GYN chief resident at the University of Hawai‘i who will next year begin her specialization in complex family planning – focusing on abortion training, complex contraception, and reproductive justice.

“With reproductive rights under attack by the far-right across the country, OB-GYNs practicing in Republican-controlled states are being criminalized just for providing basic health care,” said Senator Schatz. “I’m proud to have Dr. Manayan join me for the State of the Union to highlight the live-saving care doctors like her provide to women and families every day.”

“I’m honored to join Senator Brian Schatz at this year’s State of the Union. While we are lucky to have strong abortion rights protections in Hawai‘i, the attacks on reproductive health, in addition to violating every pregnant capable person’s right to bodily autonomy, will impact our ability to deliver care, including access to safe medications like mifepristone,” said Dr. Olivia Manayan, Senator Schatz’s guest. “Abortion is healthcare, and healthcare is a fundamental human right. I’m proud to stand with Senator Schatz and represent OB-GYN providers in Hawai‘i and across the country.”

Leader Schumer invited Kate Farley. Kate was ultimately diagnosed with a rare chromosomal issue that prevents about 80 percent of the embryos she produces from developing into a baby. Kate's doctors told her that without medical assistance, she would continue to have miscarriages, unless she beat the odds and produced an embryo with all the needed DNA that successfully implanted and started to develop.  They recommended IVF, which would allow them to test the embryos to find one that had a complete set of chromosomes and then transfer that into her uterus.  Kate underwent this IVF treatment and had her son in April 2021.  She is now pregnant with a daughter due later this month. Without IVF, Kate and her husband might never have had children, and would have endured years of emotionally and physically painful miscarriages in their attempts. They are eternally grateful to the amazing scientists and medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping people like Kate have children.

Leader Schumer also invited Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Johnson is a national leader in sexual and reproductive health and education. Through a network of 49 affiliates, Planned Parenthood health centers provide vital health care to more than 2 million people each year at nearly 600 health centers across the country, so that everyone — no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make — can get supportive, high-quality health care to live full, healthy lives. 

“In world created by the MAGA Republican Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe, women and families are living in fear that the Republican’s anti-reproductive, anti-freedom agenda is taking this freedom away. I’m honored to bring Kate Farley, soon-to be second time mom thanks to the wonderful reality of in vitro fertilization, as my guest to President Biden’s State of the Union address,” said Leader Schumer. “There are countless people today who have the joy of children solely because of IVF and comprehensive reproductive healthcare, and no American trying to get pregnant should have to live in fear that their access to becoming a parent through IVF could be taken away, or worry their fundamental rights could disappear tomorrow. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Kate, and I will always fight to ensure New Yorkers and Americans have reproductive healthcare.”

“Without IVF, I might never have had children, and would have endured years of emotionally and physically painful miscarriages,” said Kate Farley, Leader Schumer’s guest. “I’m eternally grateful to the amazing scientists and medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping people like me have children, and my heart breaks for those women who, because of the Alabama decision, might have to stop their attempts to start a family. I know better than most that an embryos is not a baby and treating them that way will keep many people like myself from realizing their dream of becoming parents.”

“As a fellow New Yorker, it is an honor to be a guest of Sen. Schumer tonight for the State of the Union Address and have the partnership of leaders like him as we navigate the fight ahead. Whether, when, and how we decide to build families, determine the course of our own futures, and can participate as full and equal members of society is at stake. The strong presence of reproductive rights advocates, patients, and providers during this evening’s address is a reminder that our leaders not only understand this crisis, but are with us for the work ahead,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Senator Murray, a longtime leader in the fight to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, invited Kayla Smith as her guest to the State of the Union. Kayla was living in Idaho in 2022—married, with a two-year old and pregnant again—when at 19 weeks, she went in for a routine ultrasound scan and learned that her baby had serious and fatal fetal anomalies. Worried for her health should she continue the pregnancy, and unable to receive care under Idaho’s draconian abortion bans, Kayla and her husband traveled to Seattle, Washington to get an early induction of labor in Seattle. The trip cost thousands of dollars, requiring them to take out a personal loan. In 2023, Kayla and her family left Idaho and moved to Washington state, where they now reside—in large part because they wanted to grow their family in a state where basic reproductive health care was legal and protected.

“Kayla Smith knows better than anyone the cruelty of Republicans’ anti-abortion agenda, and the chaos and anguish Republicans are creating for families in states where abortion is banned—because she’s lived it,” said Senator Murray. “We have to speak up at every opportunity and continue doing everything in our power to shine a light on the horrific consequences of Republican abortion bans that have ripped away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Everyone in America needs to know what happened to Kayla—and they need to understand that what happened to her in Idaho could happen to any woman in any state if Republicans succeed in passing their national abortion ban, which Donald Trump has made clear he supports. Kayla’s bravery in coming forward to speak out and tell her story—while at the same time fighting Idaho’s abortion ban—is inspiring, and I look forward to having her by my side at the State of the Union Address.”

“When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my second child, the anatomy scan revealed our son Brooks had several fatal fetal anomalies. With Roe overturned and Idaho’s trigger law going into effect just days before finding out about our son’s condition, we were forced to seek help outside of Idaho,” said Kayla Smith, Senator Murray’s guest. “I grew up in Washington and felt safest coming back to get care here. My husband and I have since welcomed another little girl into our family and now currently reside in Washington. We felt strongly about raising our girls in a state where they would have bodily autonomy. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to sit alongside Senator Murray at the State of the Union address and continue to share not only my story, but the story of so many other women who have unfortunately been forced to flee their home state for abortion care.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth invited Amanda Adeleye, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist and the Medical Director for CCRM Fertility’s Chicago-area clinics. She is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Adeleye is devoted to using research to close the gap on fertility-related healthcare disparities. Her research interests include increasing access to care and education for the LGBTQ+ community and to people of color. She is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“For years, even before the Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, I’ve sounded the alarm that Republicans’ decades-long campaign to rob women of their right to make decisions about their healthcare and bodies would eventually put IVF and other ART at risk,” said Senator Duckworth. “It’s thanks to doctors and health professionals like Dr. Amanda Adeleye that millions of Americans—myself included—have been able to have kids and grow our families, but Republicans intent on exerting even more control over women’s bodies are putting access to these treatments at risk across the country. I’m proud to have Dr. Adeleye as my State of the Union guest this year to remind Americans just how critical this work is and the importance of protecting IVF access.”

“I am incredibly honored to be invited as Senator Duckworth’s guest for the State of the Union,” said Dr. Adeleye, Senator Duckworth’s guest. “I believe that people should be able to build the family of their dreams. Sometimes this requires assistance with treatments such as in vitro fertilization. Access to fertility care is critical and making it explicit through a bill like the Access to Family Building Act is so important as access to broader reproductive rights are challenged. In a country as wonderful as the United States, I believe we should all have the right and the access to build the loving family we have hoped for.”

Read more on the women, providers, and other guests with reproductive rights stories other Democratic Senators have invited to State of the Union:

Senator Tina Smith invited Tammi Kromenaker, Clinic Director of Red River Women’s Clinic in Moorhead, MN. Red River Women’s Clinic was the only abortion provider in the state of North Dakota for over 20 years. After the fall of Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, they worked diligently to identify, locate, and purchase property just across the Red River in Moorhead, Minnesota due to the looming trigger ban in North Dakota. Since, August of 2022, they have been providing abortion care in their new Moorhead location. Since the fall of Roe, they routinely hear from patients from banned states that they fear facing criminal prosecution if they leave their banned state to come to Minnesota for abortion care.

“When North Dakota banned abortion statewide after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Tammi Kromenaker sprang into action, moving Red River Women’s Clinic across the bridge from Fargo to Moorhead,” said Senator Smith. “Now, Minnesota is an island for abortion care in the Upper Midwest, and thousands of people in the region and across the country count on Red River Women’s Clinic for their health care. Every day, women walk through the doors of RRWC ready to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. And every day that freedom is under assault by the forces dedicated to a national abortion ban. The story of Tammi and her clinic represents the absolute chaos for Americans after the Supreme Court ruling, and her commitment to continuing to provide health care for women in a challenging landscape is inspiring. I’m so glad to have her by my side at President Biden’s State of the Union.” 

“Patients seeking abortion care in this post-Dobbs landscape are desperate, frightened and often worried about state laws that ban abortion,” said Tammi Kromenaker, Senator Smith’s guest. “Patients should not have to fear being labeled a criminal when seeking medical care. At Red River Women’s Clinic, we are grateful for Minnesota’s elected leaders who led the way to not only protect abortion access but also to set up defenses for those traveling from other states. I am honored to join Senator Smith to represent independent abortion providers at the State of the Union. It is vital that we continue to lift up the incredible obstacles clinics and patients are facing in this post-Dobbs world.” 

Senator Tim Kaine invited Elizabeth Carr, the first person in the United States born via in-vitro fertilization. Elizabeth was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1981.

“I’m thrilled to have Elizabeth Carr joining me at the State of the Union. The Carr family’s journey with IVF is a point of pride for Virginia and has given hope to generations of families struggling with infertility,” said Senator Kaine. “In the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling, it’s more important than ever that we commit to protecting access to IVF services nationwide. We must work to safeguard IVF so the Elizabeth Carrs of the world can continue to be born.”

“I am honored and humbled to be able to attend the State of the Union address with Senator Kaine as a representative of how far IVF technology has come in this country—and not just as the first IVF baby in this country, but also as someone who understands deeply just how many people in-vitro has helped build the family of their dreams,” said Elizabeth Carr, Senator Kaine’s guest.

Senator Cory Booker will be highlighting Democrats’ commitment to protecting reproductive freedom, including IVF. He will be joined by Roshni Kamta, a Jersey City native whose breast cancer diagnosis at 22 years old led her to freeze her eggs and inspired her advocacy for wider access to fertility treatments on behalf of breast cancer patients and women of color in healthcare.

“Roshni’s journey as a young woman navigating the daunting intersection of a cancer diagnosis with fertility challenges speaks to her unwavering resilience,” said Senator Booker. “As we witness alarming attacks on IVF and other assisted reproductive technology, particularly in the aftermath of the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, it’s crucial that we listen to people like Roshni. Recognizing that everyone's path to parenthood is unique and their decision to pursue IVF deeply personal, we must protect and ensure equitable access to fertility treatments. Roshni's story is a testament to the importance of removing barriers to IVF and advancing healthcare policies that prioritize dignity and choice for all.”

“When diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to advocate for the best care—not only for the medical treatment that would save my life, but also a chance to have a family of my own,” said Roshni Kamta, Senator Booker’s guest. “I applaud Senator Booker’s efforts to make fertility treatment accessible, despite the many barriers patients must face. I am forever grateful for The Chick Mission’s financial support—they made sure I could decide to have children in the future, not cancer.”

Senate Democrats made clear at the outset of this Congress that they are continuing to fight to protect every American’s reproductive rights and will be a firewall against continued attacks on women’s rights. Senate Democrats have introduced more than a dozen pieces of legislation to protect reproductive rights from further attacks, protect providers, and help ensure women get the care they need; importantly, Senate Democrats are fighting to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would restore the right to abortion nationwide.