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caption: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, speaks during a press conference May 5, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
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Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, speaks during a press conference May 5, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sen. Murray calls on voters to 'stand up' to threats to abortion access, and democracy itself

There are two national stories dominating the news these days. Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade continues to reverberate as Americans grapple with the short and long-term consequences of losing a constitutional right to legal abortion.

And, revelations from congressional hearings into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are renewing focus on the consequences for perpetrators of that event, including the former president.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington shared her thoughts on both stories with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Kim Malcolm: When the Supreme Court draft decision reversing abortion rights was leaked, you said, “We cannot let this stand.” At this point, what is your strategy for making sure Americans have safe access to reproductive health care across the country?

Sen. Patty Murray: Well, even though we saw this coming, I will tell you that on Friday, when I heard the ruling, I was so saddened and angry. We are doing everything we can to push the President and the administration to make sure protections are there, making sure people have access to medical abortion, making sure access to their health care decisions is kept private so they can't be tracked.

But, the real answer is we need to have 52 pro-choice Democrats in the Senate after this election to codify Roe into law, and a House of Representatives that will do the same. In the meantime, we're trying to do everything we can to provide women the protections they need, the support they need, and the ability to make their own health-care decisions. It's a challenge.

What plans do you have to support states like Washington, which are already seeing an influx of patients seeking care?

We need to do everything we can at the federal level to support our providers here in Washington state. It will be a challenge because Republicans are going to fight us every step of the way. We need to fight back against the further steps Republicans are trying to take right now to pass a federal ban on abortion.

And then we need to take our voices and our votes to Congress in the fall to make sure we can enact into law the protections of Roe. That will take a pro-choice Senate, and House, and get it to the president.

Turning to the January 6 hearings now, and the remarkable testimony we heard yesterday from a top aide to the former White House Chief of Staff — what was going through your mind as you heard her testimony?

I was in the Capitol on January 6, and I believe so strongly that our democracy is at stake right now. A democracy means we use our voices and our votes to enact policy. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But at a point where we allow a president and his friends to overtake those voices and votes with brute power is when we lose our democracy.

We all have to stand up and make our voices heard and never allow this to happen again. I think the congressional hearings right now are showing the American people exactly who was behind that, and what is happening.

And I just have to add: Where are the Republicans? Why are they not standing up and fighting for our democracy right now? This is about the future of this country, and I just beg them to please stand up and fight for our democracy. That is our most important effort in this country for the future.

What are your thoughts on where these hearings could actually lead, and if they can even make a dent in our deep partisan divide?

The House hearings will make the case. It will be up to the Department of Justice, but it's also up to all of us to really ask ourselves what our country is, what a democracy is, and are we using our challenge at this moment to show the world and our own citizens that we believe in a democracy that is run by votes, and voters, and our opinions, not by the use of brute force. We can never allow that to happen. We have to stand up and be loud.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.