Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Dr. Serina Floyd offers insight on the impact of abortion bans

On the morning of Wednesday, January 17, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sat before a full room in the U.S. Capitol Building, ready to kick off a U.S. Senate Democrats briefing on the state of abortion rights in America. To her right, seated at a table, was Dr. Serina Floyd, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC (PPMW) and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. To her left were Dr. Austin Dennard, physician and patient plaintiff in the Texas v. Zurawski case, and writer Jessica Valenti, author of Abortion, Every Day.

The murmur of the crowd quieted to an observant hush as Senator Murray began speaking to the audience in the room and thousands of viewers tuning in on YouTube.

The briefing was organized by Senator Murray and co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). It was held ahead of what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade to urgently address the intensifying crises caused by the reversal of Roe nearly two years ago. 

Dr. Floyd joined the panel to provide firsthand insight on the impact of abortion bans and restrictions that have swept across the nation in the absence of Roe v. Wade’s basic protections. 

“Abortion is essential care”

Dr. Dennard spoke first, recounting the harrowing experience of fleeing her home state of Texas to receive an abortion for a nonviable pregnancy after she was denied care. Next, Dr. Floyd spoke to the heart of the issue: “I am here today to make clear that abortion is essential care. I can say without hesitation that I have saved peoples’ lives by providing abortion care.”

Dr. Floyd went on to describe how the effects of abortion bans and restrictions are exacerbated for those who are already marginalized in American life. She noted: 

“Systemic racism and economic injustice have translated into enormous failures of the U.S. health care and economic systems to meet the needs of minoritized and marginalized individuals. This has resulted in a disproportionate shouldering of the burden of restrictive laws and abortion bans on people of color, those with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ+ persons, rural communities, migrants and immigrants, those with disabilities, and those experiencing incarceration.” 

Her comments made clear that banning and restricting abortion access is not merely a political issue, but rather a full-fledged public health crisis: the denial of essential medical care to millions in need. As Jessica Valenti pointed out, “Abortion is health care, but it is also freedom. That’s why every abortion denied is a tragedy, and, increasingly, Americans understand that. They don’t want the government involved in their decisions about pregnancy at any point.” 

“The floor, not the ceiling”

Senators soon had an opportunity to ask the speakers questions on topics like common misconceptions about abortion, the impacts of abortion care on patients’ lives, and how abortion restrictions and bans are affecting doctors as well as patients. 

“What people truly do not understand is that even though this country is now in an abortion care crisis poe-Roe, this country was never where it needed to be before Roe even fell,” Dr. Floyd said. She emphasized, “Roe was always the floor, not the ceiling, and right now what this country needs to address to save abortion care is so much more than what Roe gave us when it was in existence.” 

Dr. Floyd noted that it has always been the case that a person’s zip code affected whether or not they could access abortion care; now, it is just more starkly evident. When Senator Baldwin went on to ask about the impact felt by patients having to travel out of state for abortions, Dr. Floyd called attention to the intensified impact of abortion bans and restrictions on marginalized people: 

“If you are someone with means, if you are someone with privilege, if you are someone with resources, you don’t quite understand what it means when you have to use the last of the money that you have, that you would’ve otherwise used to pay your rent or your light bill or to buy groceries for your family. When you have to use the last of that money to be able to arrange transportation. When you have to figure out ‘what am I going to do with my children because I can’t take them with me,’ or, when you do have to take them with you, you have you have to figure out ‘what am I going to do with them while I’m traveling and while I’m having my abortion.’"

Left to right: Dr. Serina Floyd speaks as Senator Patty Murray, Dr. Austin Dennard, and writer Jessica Valenti listen intently.

Left to right: Dr. Serina Floyd speaks as Senator Patty Murray, Dr. Austin Dennard, and writer Jessica Valenti listen intently.

Changing destinies

Dr. Floyd’s comment recalled a story she shared earlier in the morning about a patient she called Nina, who traveled to D.C. from North Carolina to access abortion care. She was planning to stay the night in a D.C. homeless shelter, before PPMW helped her get a hotel room for the evening, giving her a sense of safety and privacy. 

“Nina had no money. Not for a hotel, not for food, for nothing,” Dr. Floyd said. “All she had was her bus ticket home. Nina’s story is one of the many I could tell, each and every one disturbing and heartbreaking.” 

As the discussion continued, Senator Warren asked about the invasion of privacy associated with legislating pregnancy. Building on Valenti’s point that “pregnancy is too complicated to legislate at any point and there is no safe or ethical way for us to do that,” Dr. Floyd spoke with striking clarity. “What we need is to have zero political interference in the care that we’re providing. None,” she said. “Patients are fully equipped to be able to make complex decisions about their health and their lives.” 

Dr. Floyd emphasized that when doctors are able to provide patients with high-quality, comprehensive, compassionate health care without political interference, that care changes lives. “I cannot tell you how many patients I’ve seen, how many people I know, who talk about how their abortion has allowed them to continue their education, to take a job that they otherwise would not have been able to have, to take care of family members that they otherwise would not have been able to take care of,” she shared. 

Having access to abortion care, she reflected, “changes destinies.

Tags: Abortion Access, US Senate

Explore more on


This website uses cookies

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors use cookies and other tools to collect, store, monitor, and analyze information about your interaction with our site to improve performance, analyze your use of our sites and assist in our marketing efforts. You may opt out of the use of these cookies and other tools at any time by visiting Cookie Settings. By clicking “Allow All Cookies” you consent to our collection and use of such data, and our Terms of Use. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

Cookie Settings

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors, use cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies to collect, store, monitor, and process certain information about you when you access and use our services, read our emails, or otherwise engage with us. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences, or your device. We use that information to make the site work, analyze performance and traffic on our website, to provide a more personalized web experience, and assist in our marketing efforts. We also share information with our social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You can change your default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of required cookies when utilizing our site; this includes necessary cookies that help our site to function (such as remembering your cookie preference settings). For more information, please see our Privacy Notice.



We use online advertising to promote our mission and help constituents find our services. Marketing pixels help us measure the success of our campaigns.



We use qualitative data, including session replay, to learn about your user experience and improve our products and services.



We use web analytics to help us understand user engagement with our website, trends, and overall reach of our products.