WASHINGTON - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today reiterated its opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) nomination to serve as Attorney General in the Trump administration. As the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing with Senator Sessions, Planned Parenthood Federation of America is calling on committee members to fully examine and firmly question him on his long record of attacking women’s access to health care, including access to safe and legal abortion.
Planned Parenthood joined 70 reproductive health, rights, and justice groups to voice strong opposition to Senator Sessions’ nomination, citing “reason for concern for all who value the safety of women’s health providers and their patients.” Planned Parenthood also joined over 300 civil rights groups in a letter to Senate leaders outlining Sessions’ “30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights,” including protecting the right to vote.
Statement of Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood opposes Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination due to his long, aggressive record of attacking women’s access to health care and safe and legal abortion. The Attorney General plays the critical role of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer of the United States, and Senator Sessions has failed to demonstrate that he will work to keep the country safe, protect the right to vote for all citizens, and protect health care providers. We urge the Judiciary Committee to question Senator Sessions on this troubling history. The Committee must also raise Senator Sessions’ extreme opposition to protecting civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, and his hesitancy to condemn sexual assault.
“Jeff Sessions has long opposed the protections for clinics facing violence, raising deep concerns about whether he will ensure the safety of reproductive health care providers and staff and remain impartial in enforcing the law. What’s more, at Planned Parenthood, we see firsthand what it means for people who are forced to travel hundreds of miles for health care, or wait weeks to get an abortion if they can at all. These barriers to care have a disproportionate impact on those who already face barriers in the health care system – people of color, people who live in rural areas, people with low incomes, and immigrant communities. Our chief law enforcement official has a great impact on these individual’s basic human rights and ability to live without fear. The Judiciary Committee should consider the needs of these individuals and strongly question the fitness of Senator Sessions to serve as America’s Attorney General.”
Senator Sessions has already shown himself to be biased. Sessions has voted numerous times to defund Planned Parenthood, has co-sponsored legislation to “defund” Planned Parenthood, and has signed a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation of Planned Parenthood in the absence of any credible evidence of wrongdoing.
Senator Sessions has voted six times to block patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. [Vitter Amendment to H.R. 3043, Roll Call Vote 379,10/18/07; Roll Call Vote 60, H. Con. Res. 36, 4/14/11; Roll Call Vote 36, H.R. 1, 3/9/11; Roll Call Vote 262, S. 1881, 8/3/15; S. Amdt 2669 to H.J. Res. 61, Roll Call Vote 270, 9/24/15; H.R. 3762, Roll Call Vote 329,12/3/15;]
Senator Sessions stated that Planned Parenthood should not receive federal funds because it is an abortion provider, “Looking at the facts, I find that Planned Parenthood has far more difficulty defending its legitimacy as a Federal recipient of millions of dollars than other institutions. [... ] One of the largest things it does is provide abortions. They have a very strong ideological agenda that a lot of the American people do not agree with. Why should we fund it?”
Senator Session sponsored S. 1836, The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would have prohibited the availability of funds to Planned Parenthood for period of one-year.
Sessions 20 years in the United States Senate have been dedicated to opposing women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion:
- Wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned and called it a “lawless” decision: “Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who thinks Roe is ‘a lawless decision that should be overturned.” [The Washington Times, 9/14/05]
Senator Sessions “believes that sanctity of life begins at conception”: According to the Senator’s website, “Sessions has been a consistent supporter of pro-life policies. He is an original co-sponsor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and believes that sanctity of life begins at conception.” [Office of Senator Jeff Sessions, accessed 11/28/16]
Senator Sessions’ anti-abortion record calls into question his ability to enforce the FACE Act and prosecute federal crimes targeting abortion providers to the fullest extent of the law.
In nearly 39 years, there’s been ongoing targeting of abortion providers and clinic violence:
- Since 1977 there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 185 arsons and thousands of criminal activities directed at abortion providers, according to data from the National Abortion Federation.
Senator Sessions voted to table an amendment that would have created a clinic safety and security fund. Senator Murray offered an amendment to HR 3762 to establish a women's health care and clinic security and safety fund, Sessions voted to table this amendment.
Sessions’ legislative record demonstrates extreme positions and opposition to women’s health, since Sessions took office he has taken 48 votes against women’s health, including:
- Senator Sessions opposed women’s access to no cost birth control through Affordable Care Act, and called his vote a “good vote”: “Senate Republicans, who narrowly lost a bid to roll back new federal insurance rules requiring contraceptive coverage, were decidedly circumspect after being portrayed by Democrats as trying to interfere with women's health options…."It was a good vote, but we do need to be focused on some of these debt issues — they're just huge," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Budget Committee.” [The Los Angeles Times, 3/1/12]
- Senator Sessions voted against service women's access to privately funded abortions in military facilities. Senator Murray offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 to repeal the restriction on the use of Department of Defense facilities for privately funded abortion, Senator Sessions voted to table the amendment.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With over 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
January 10, 2017