Washington, D.C. May 10, 2022 – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered remarks on the floor of the Senate on the need to protect the Constitutional right to abortion and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law. This comes after reports that this extremist Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Senator Warren called out Republicans for their decades-long work cultivating extremist judges to chip away at Americans’ fundamental rights and their plans to pass anti-abortion laws across the country.
Watch Senator Warren’s full remarks HERE:
Senator Elizabeth Warren: Madam President, I rise today to urge the Senate to take action to protect abortion rights and defend our constitutional rights. A far-right, extremist Supreme Court wants to force their views on every American.
Roe v. Wade has protected the right to a safe, legal abortion for nearly 50 years. Though Republicans have tried to challenge it in court many times, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed Roe over and over and over again. Until now.
So what changed? Why is something that is repeatedly referred to as ‘settled law’ on the threshold of being swept away like so much dust? Why is a law that is literally – protects tens of millions of people, and they have depended on it to protect access to a safe, legal abortion suddenly about to evaporate?
We don’t arrive here accidentally. We are here because Republican politicians have spent decades plotting for this moment. They have cultivated extremist judges. Groups like the Federalist Society have screened possible candidates and drawn up lists of which possible candidates could and could not be counted on.
Extremist donors spent billions in dark money so that their preferred ideologues could chip away at people’s fundamental rights and do it from the bench. Republican candidates for office pledged to support Justices who would get rid of Roe v. Wade. And finally, when all of that still wasn’t enough, Republicans stole two seats on the Supreme Court – all to force their unpopular, minority agenda on the rest of America.
I’m here to sound a warning. Republican extremism has been carefully nurtured for years. Now, Republican extremism is spreading. And now, it is obvious that Republican extremism knows no bounds.
Let’s talk about the facts, the facts of Republican extremism, and let’s begin with who pays the price for Republican extremism. Changes in abortion laws will have terrible consequences. But those consequences will not fall equally on everyone. No. Those with money will always have the option to leave the state or leave the country to travel where abortion is safe and legal. No. The people who will pay the biggest price will be the most vulnerable among us.
The mama already working two jobs to help make ends meet to support the children she has. The women working jobs who have no paid leave and who can’t take the three days off work to go to another state. The woman in South Dakota scrambling to make an appointment at the only abortion clinic in the entire state. The 12-year-old who’s been molested. The person who has been raped. The women in Texas who need life-saving care that their doctors can’t provide. And the women all across the country, especially women of color, already facing shamefully high maternal mortality rates – because in America, carrying a pregnancy to term is 43 times riskier than a legal abortion.
These are the facts about overturning Roe v. Wade and these are the people, disproportionately low-income women, women of color, and women in rural communities, who will pay the price for Republican extremism.
Overturning Roe is just the beginning. Republican state legislatures all across the country have already been emboldened by this Supreme Court, introducing hundreds of anti-abortion bills this year alone. States are now introducing bills to declare it a crime for someone to obtain an abortion, for someone to provide an abortion, or for someone just to help someone locate where they might get an abortion.
And where will the Republican extremists turn next? Will they investigate every miscarriage? Will they put every obstetrician and gynecologist on a watchlist? Will they monitor location data for every person who pulls into the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood clinic?
Let’s be absolutely clear about what will happen if this decision stands. Republicans want to do more than criminalize abortion. They want to criminalize women for making decisions about their pregnancies and their own health. This isn’t theoretical, it is already coming to pass.
In Texas, where abortion has been virtually inaccessible to millions of Texans for the last eight months, a young woman has been charged with murder for an alleged self-induced abortion. An Oklahoma law has passed that would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
But what Republicans are really after is criminalizing women’s very bodies. In Louisiana, Republicans are pushing for the most extreme bill yet – legislation that would classify abortion as a homicide. If enacted, this bill could criminalize women for using certain forms of birth control – or even for having a miscarriage that she had no control over.
And we know who will be the most affected by the over-criminalization of women’s bodies. It will be women of color who are already over-policed and face the greatest barriers to accessing healthcare.
The intrusiveness of these state laws is vile. Efforts to give fertilized eggs personhood rights, and to criminalize abortion could make IVF procedures criminal, depriving someone who wants to get pregnant the only option available to her.
As some states get more and more aggressive about intruding into the private lives of millions of women, just this weekend, the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell signaled he’s open to even more extremism. He said that a nationwide abortion ban was “possible” if Republicans retake the majority.
A nationwide abortion ban, applicable in every state, including those states that are currently working overtime to protect access to abortion. A nationwide abortion ban applicable to girls who have been molested and to people that have been raped and to women who are already working three jobs to support the children they have. Republican extremism is spreading. Republican extremism knows no bounds.
For me, this isn’t about politics – this is personal. I have lived in a world where abortion was illegal. I learned early on that when the law bans only – when the law bans abortions, only safe and legal abortions will actually be banned. I lived in a world in which women bled to death from back-alley abortions. A world in which infections and other complications destroyed women’s futures. A world in which women’s educations and lives were derailed by an unplanned pregnancy. A world in which some women took their own lives rather than continuing with a pregnancy they could not bear.
I have also lived in a world where abortion is legal. For decades, expanded access to abortion has allowed people to make decisions about their own bodies and lives, promoting access to life-changing opportunities and careers that had previously seemed out of reach. But the Republican extremists and the extremist Justices they have put on the Supreme Court just don’t care. They want to send us back to the days when women’s rights to control their own bodies and their own futures simply did not exist.
American freedoms are under attack. The liberty of more than half our population is under attack. Republicans have planned long and hard for the day and now that it is here, we must stand and fight.
Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law.
We need the Women’s Health Protection Act to prevent radical right-wing state legislatures from ever enacting extreme bills like Texas’s S.B.8 or Mississippi’s 15-week ban. With WHPA, we will take the steps necessary to protect our human rights. It is just that simple.
And for everyone who says we don’t have the votes in the Senate to get this done, I say then get in the fight and give us the Senators who will get it done. Don’t tell us what we can’t do to stop Republican extremism. Get in the fight to help us beat these abortion restrictions into the dirt. Get in the fight to recognize the dignity and liberty of every American.
After this vote, there will be no ambiguity. Every American will know exactly where their elected representatives in Congress stand. And every senator will have to explain whether they defend the right of every person to have control over their own bodies and their own futures. Or whether they will stand by as women’s constitutional rights are brazenly stripped away.
Whenever this Court strikes down freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Congress must defend Americans every single time. I’m angry that a group of unelected ideologues on the Supreme Court think that they can turn current law upside down and dictate to tens of millions of people across this country the terms of their pregnancies and their lives.
The Supreme Court does not get the last word on the right to a safe and legal abortion. The American people – through their leaders right here in Congress – can take action.
And that is why I will vote to support the Women’s Health Protection Act. That is why I will fiercely oppose any threat to our liberty. And that is why I will continue to fight with every bone in my body to protect the right of every woman to control her own future.
Republican extremism is spreading. Republican extremism knows no bounds. Tomorrow, we have a chance to fight back and we will fight back. I have lived in a world where abortion is illegal and we are not going back. Never.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.