Senators were urged to eliminate references to reproductive health

June 18, 2009

(Washington, DC) - Following the recent tragic shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, a reproductive health care provider in Kansas, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) authored a non-controversial resolution condemning the use of violence against providers of women's health care services.  The resolution faced objection by some colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and the Senators were urged to eliminate references to women's reproductive health care in order to unanimously pass the resolution.  Shaheen, Boxer, and Klobuchar introduced their original resolution, which was co-sponsored by an additional 43 Senators.

"I realize that the issue of reproductive choice is divisive and that there are many heartfelt feelings on both sides of the aisle," said Shaheen. "However, I was hopeful that, regardless of our differences of opinion on this sensitive issue, the Senate could come together and pass a resolution that rejects the use of violence against women's health care providers.  It is a sad day when the elected leaders of the greatest Democracy on earth can't agree to protect those exercising their constitutional rights."

"Everyone has the right to work for changes in the law, but there is no place for violence in any of our debates," said Boxer.  "To assault a health care worker, a patient or anyone else because of a disagreement about an issue, regardless of how contentious, brings all of humanity down into a dark pit of violence."

"As a former prosecutor I have seen how acts of violence can tear apart communities," said Klobuchar. "No matter how heated the debate or how great our differences, violence is never the answer.  Supporting a bipartisan bill that denounces the use of violence is basic common sense and we need to pass this without further delay."

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence in places of worship.  Shaheen, Boxer and Klobuchar were asked adopt the House language in the Senate, but decided to move forward with their resolution, as they feel condemning violence against women's health care providers and agreeing not to use violence as a means of resolving differences are not objectionable viewpoints.

The Senate resolution was sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Boxer, and Klobuchar.  It was co-sponsored by Senators Murray; Durbin; Dodd; Schumer; Lautenberg; Mikulski; Landrieu; Gillibrand; Harkin; Carper; Sanders; Kaufman; Wyden; Kerry; Lieberman; Tom Udall; Levin; Brown; Whitehouse; Burris; Mark Udall; Stabenow; Baucus; Cantwell; Bingaman; Inouye; Cardin; Specter; Johnson; Feingold; Leahy; Tester; Snowe; Begich; Akaka; Bennet; Feinstein; Warner; McCaskill; Reed; Kennedy, Lincoln; and Merkley.

The full text of the resolution follows:


Condemning the use of violence against providers of health care services to women.

Whereas Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was shot to death at church on Sunday, May 31;

Whereas there is a history of violence against providers of reproductive health care, as health care employees have suffered threats and hostility in order to provide crucial services to patients;

Whereas the threat or use of force or physical obstruction has been used to injure, intimidate, or interfere with individuals seeking to obtain or provide health care services; and

Whereas acts of violence are never an acceptable means of expression and always shall be condemned:  Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate---

(1)    Expresses great sympathy for the family, friends and patients of Dr. George Tiller;

(2)    Recognizes that acts of violence should never be used to prevent women from receiving reproductive health care; and

(3)    Condemns the use of violence as a means of resolving differences of opinion.

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Alex Reese