A Senate hearing orchestrated by Democratic lawmakers Tuesday scrutinized pro-life laws that emerged throughout the country after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade amid charges from Republicans that the panel was convened with the November elections in mind.

The Health, Education, and Labor Committee hearing, held on June 4, just five months before the 2024 elections, invited four pro-abortion witnesses and two pro-life witnesses. The hearing, titled “The Assault on Women’s Freedoms,” was chaired by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

“Today we take a close accounting of the trauma Republicans are inflicting on women and families across our country and the damage they are doing to basic reproductive health care through their horrific anti-abortion crusade,” Murray said at the hearing. “The issue here is simple, and it cuts to the core of American values: freedom.”

The pro-abortion witnesses included Madysyn Anderson, a woman who traveled out of state to obtain an abortion she could not have in Texas, and Nisha Verma, an abortionist who serves as a fellow at the Physicians for Reproductive Health.

With much of the committee hearing focused on anecdotal examples of women trying to obtain abortions in pro-life states, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, the ranking member of the committee, characterized the meeting as “partisan politics being played out in a committee hearing.”

“It’s an election year in which a Democratic incumbent president [Joe Biden] is running behind,” Cassidy said. “So a decision has been made to raise abortion to a high profile, to change the setting, to invite a lot of folks, to put us on TV.”

Cassidy, who displayed a diagram showing the development of a preborn baby from the 10th week of pregnancy through the 41st week, accused Democrats of attempting to “normalize a decision to abort a child,” which is a procedure “in which the intent is to end a life.” 

“I’m a doctor,” Cassidy said during the hearing. “I see that you have to take care of that mama … but you have to recognize that there is another life there as well. This is not just a collection of cells. This is a child that, if delivered, will live, and maybe this one, too, and that one as well. So let’s have a national dialogue.” 

Melissa Ohden, a woman who survived a late-term abortion procedure when her mother was 19 years old and pregnant, was one of the pro-life panelists invited to testify at the hearing. Ohden said: “The nightmare here is not abortion bans” but rather “the nightmare is that abortion continues to be aggressively promoted so that it is seen as the only option.”

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“Consider how different women’s and children’s lives, families, [and] our society could be if just as much money was spent to provide financial assistance, housing, education, and employment support, child care, medical, and mental health care,” Ohden continued. “This would lead to a new era of women’s empowerment that ends the generational trauma of abortion.”

During the hearing, lawmakers and panelists engaged in brief back-and-forths about the safety and efficacy of abortion pill drugs as well as the abortion pill reversal drug. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a lawsuit challenging the approval and deregulation of mifepristone, which is commonly used in chemical abortions.

The abortion pill reversal drug, which is meant to counter the effects of mifepristone, has come under scrutiny from Democrats, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a lawsuit that accuses pro-life pregnancy centers of making misleading claims about the drug. 

As abortion remains a divisive and polarizing topic in American politics, some Republican lawmakers are trying to pivot to pro-life policies intended to promote life that are unrelated to abortion heading into the 2024 elections. Just last week, Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Katie Britt introduced the More Opportunities for Moms to Succeed (MOMS) Act, which would seek to support women during and after pregnancy. 

The proposal would increase access to resources and assistance for prenatal, postpartum, and early childhood development, according to a press release.