Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Ahead Of Tomorrow’s Senate Vote On Legislation To Codify Roe Into Federal Law

May 10, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow’s Senate vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Women’s Health Protection Act, to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Tomorrow, the United States Senate will vote to protect one of the most fundamental freedoms that women have in this country: the freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

Few decisions are more personal. Few decisions are more private than decisions women make regarding their own pregnancies. Few should be more out of bounds to elected politicians and to the whims of government.

But sadly, few rights are in as much peril right now as the fundamental right to choose. If this abominable decision becomes law, women will lose their freedom in so many ways, a giant step backwards in the United States where expanding freedom has always been our goal and our aspiration.

Tomorrow’s vote will be one of the most important votes we take in this chamber in decades, because for the first time in fifty years a conservative majority – an extreme conservative majority – on the Supreme Court is on the brink of declaring that women do not have the right to an abortion, that they do not have the right to control their own bodies. They do not have the right to healthcare in the ways that they believe they need.

If that happens, tens of millions of women will see their freedoms contract in the blink of an eye. Our children will grow up in a world where they have fewer rights than their parents and grandparents had. America will take a painful and damaging step backwards.

The American people will be watching the Senate closely tomorrow, and they will not forget how their elected Senators voted.

I ask my colleagues to think carefully about their vote, to grapple with the impact of a world without Roe, because all of us will have to answer for this vote for the rest of our time in public office.

Now, it is worth saying over and over again: last week’s draft decision didn’t come out of nowhere. It didn’t materialize in a vacuum.

On the contrary, it is precisely the outcome that extreme Republicans have been working towards for years.

Leader McConnell himself has admitted that this was their plan all along: they have worked for years to confirm radical judges plucked right out of the Federalist Society playbook with the express goal to “pick away at Roe v. Wade.”

The radicals on the hard right have passed wave after wave of draconian restrictions at the state level making abortion nearly impossible to access. One of those laws is about to be upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.

And these radicals have taken on what were once outlandish ideas—like prison time for women and doctors and abortion bans without exception for rape and incest—and brought them to the forefront. Ideas that were radical and out of hand, they're now talking about freely.

And should Roe ultimately be overturned, many of us fear that it would be just the start.

Over the weekend Leader McConnell acknowledged where this is ultimately going: without Roe, proposals for a nationwide ban on abortions are now “possible” if Republicans retake the Senate. That’s what Leader McConnell said this weekend.

That’s right: a national ban on abortion. Not very long ago the idea seemed to belong on the extreme of the extremes. Now, the Republican Leader himself acknowledges this is on the table. Just a glaring indication of how radicalized the Republican Party has become in recent decades, as the MAGA wing has all but completed its cancerous takeover.

All the times that Republicans disguised their hostility to Roe as a matter of “states’ rights” have been exposed for what they are: hypocrisy, a smokescreen hiding the real objective. It’s one of the oldest, most sinister arguments Republicans have used for decades.

For MAGA Republicans, this has never been about state’s rights. It has always been about getting rid of abortion altogether.

The hypocrisy runs deeper still: it’s worth noting that the very same party that spent years opposing health care by saying “the American people want health care decisions left up to families and doctors” – that’s what they said as they opposed ACA, year after year, they said, again, “the American people want health care decisions left up to their families and doctors” when it came to ACA – are now the very same radicals who are telling Americans: no, it’s not up to your family and your doctor, it’s your body, our choice. The radical right’s choice. The choice of five Justices on the Supreme Court, who are extreme.

And now, many on the other side can’t even bring themselves to own the horrors they’ve unleashed. They’re trying to convince people they are not extreme, but the truth is that the MAGA wing of the Republican party is running the show, and their actions prove how extreme they are.

Senate Republicans have spent a full week trying to change the subject to anything but Roe, because they know how toxic this issue has become for them.

The Republican Leader tried to say in vain to say that the “real” story of the draft decision was not the end of Roe but the source of the leaked draft. 

The Chair of the Republican campaign arm, Senator Scott, released laughable talking points saying Republicans of course don’t want to imprison doctors, even though his allies, his fellow MAGA Republicans are pushing for exactly that at the state level! It would all be farcical if it wasn’t so bone-chilling and the consequences were not so serious.

Senate Republicans can try and run from their role in securing Roe’s extinction, but sooner or later the truth wins out. Without the actions they have taken for years, reproductive rights wouldn’t be staring straight into a doomsday scenario.

So tomorrow, the vote to protect abortion rights will shine like a floodlight on every member of this chamber.

Republicans who pretended disingenuously as if this moment couldn’t possibly happen will have to answer to the women of America whose rights are about to be turned back by decades.

Tomorrow, there will be no more hiding. There will be no more distracting, no more obfuscating where every member in this chamber stands. 

Senate Republicans will face a choice: either vote to protect the rights of women to exercise freedom over their own bodies, or stand with the Supreme Court as fifty years of women’s rights are reduced to rubble before our very eyes. The vote tomorrow will tell. 

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