Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of today’s vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation to codify a woman’s right to choose at the federal level. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Before the day is over, every member of this body will make a choice: vote to protect the fundamental rights of women across the country, or stand with five conservative Justices ready to destroy these rights in one fell swoop.
For half a century, Roe v. Wade has been the bedrock upon which women have secured the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to their bodies. Few questions are more personal, more private, and more complicated than those involving a pregnancy. Few decisions should be more out of bounds to the whims and judgments of elected politicians.
But that is precisely the doomsday scenario that now faces our country.
Today’s vote is one of the most consequential we will take in decades, because for the first time in fifty years a conservative majority—an extreme majority—on the Supreme Court is on the brink of declaring that women do not have freedom over their own bodies, one of the longest steps back in the court’s entire history; a decision if enacted will go down as one of the worst court decisions ever. The name of this decision will live in infamy.
This morning, reports came out that the draft decision of last week remains the only one under discussion by the Court’s conservatives.
If the Supreme Court follows through on that decision, it will be the greatest contraction of individual rights in generations.
Our children will grow up in a world where they have fewer liberties than those who came before them.
The United States, which has always aspired to expand freedoms, will take a shameful step backwards. As I said, this decision will live in infamy.
So when we say that today’s vote is one of the most important we’ve taken in decades, when we say it’s not an abstract or theoretical exercise, when we say that the consequences would be real and immediate and far reaching, it is the truth.
At least 80 million women live in states that would either instantly or very quickly ban abortions should Roe come to an end.
If you are a woman seeking an abortion, a provider administering one, or even a friend giving a ride to a clinic, you could be prosecuted as a criminal and be thrown in jail. This is not an exaggeration: it is already being proposed by many legislatures and in some cases is already the law on the books.
And if, God forbid, you are the victim of rape or incest, in many states you’d discover that the laws in place could force you to carry your pregnancy to term, against your will.
This is a cruel, repressive, dangerous vision for our country, but it is precisely the future that MAGA Republicans are working towards.
It is precisely the outcome that extreme Republicans have planned for.
For years, Senate Republicans rubber stamped one extreme judge after another, plucked right out of the Federalist Society list, with the admitted goal to “pick away at Roe v. Wade” as Leader McConnell stated. Without Senate Republicans skewing our courts to the hard right, Roe would not be on the brink of extinction.
At the state level, radical MAGA Republicans have pushed or enacted restrictions that ban abortions as early as six weeks, ban abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest, criminalize women and doctors, and prevent other states from offering reproductive care. The immensely cruel law in Texas could even punish doctors who prescribe certain drugs to women in cases of miscarriage.
And it gets worse, it gets worse: Leader McConnell says that under a Republican Senate, a national ban of abortion is “possible” without Roe.
Let that sink in, America. A national ban on abortion is the extreme of extremes, and it is now “possible” in a Republican Senate according to Leader McConnell. Americans should listen to that.
For the hard right, this has never been about states’ rights. This has never been about letting Texas choose its own path while California takes another. Those arguments have now been exposed for what they are: hypocrisy.
For MAGA Republicans, this has always been about making abortion illegal everywhere—about making the bans in Texas apply equally to New York and California and Minnesota and everywhere in between.
And for all the times we heard Republicans oppose expanding healthcare because “the American people want health care decisions left up to their family and doctors” the same hard right radicals are now telling American women: “health care decisions will now be made by politicians and judges—not doctors, not families.”
MAGA Republicans are telling American women: “Your body, our choice.”
These laws are far outside the mainstream of the country:
According to a poll released this morning by Politico and Morning Consult, just 28% of voters support overturning Roe v Wade.
Nearly 75% of Americans—including a majority of Republicans—oppose the radical notion of imprisoning women who receive an abortion.
Nearly sixty percent of Americans say they want political candidates to support access to abortion. That's why this issue will be one of the most important issues facing the voters in November.
As Americans make their decisions in this year’s election, this question will not go away. Americans strongly oppose getting rid of Roe, and they will be paying close attention from now until November to Republicans who are responsible for its demise.
So to my Republican colleagues who have spent the last week trying to talk about anything other than Roe, it’s time to go on record.
I ask my colleagues to think carefully about their vote, and to reckon deeply about the consequences of a world where Roe is a thing of the past. Tens of millions of women are watching what will happen to the rights they’ve relied on for decades, and all of us will have to answer for this vote for the rest of our time in public office.
Before the day is over, every member of this body will make a choice: stand with women to protect their freedoms, or stand with MAGA Republicans and take our country into a dark and repressive future.