Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor before a vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion access into federal law. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
The question before the Senate is simple: as women’s rights face their greatest threat in half a century, will this chamber step into the breach and protect the basic right to choose?
Will we enshrine into law what courts have held for decades, that decisions women make about their pregnancies belong to them and them alone?
Or will five unelected Justices—presiding without accountability in a courtroom across the street—take a fundamental right away from millions upon millions of women in this country?
In a few minutes, it will be time for members to vote.
The legislation before this chamber is straightforward: it would codify what Americans already believe, that the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion belongs to women, not elected politicians.
It will preserve the safeguard that conservative Justices seem ready to strike down in just a few weeks. If they follow through with their decision, the United States—which has always aspired to the expansion of rights—will take a shameful and repressive step backwards.
Our kids will grow up in a country with fewer rights than those who came before them.
This decision, if formalized, would be remembered as one of the worst and most damaging cases in the entire history of the Supreme Court.
So this is not a theoretical exercise, oh no; protecting the right to choose, at this critical moment, is one of the most consequential votes we could possibly take.
And the American people are watching; the public will not forget which side of the vote Senators fall on today.
They will not forget who voted to protect their freedoms.
And they will not forget those responsible for the greatest backslide of individual liberties in half a century.
Across the country, the hard right is hell-bent on sending women’s rights back to the Stone Age, and we in the Senate must respond.
We must respond to radicals who want to ban abortions as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
We must respond to extremists who want to prosecute and imprison women and doctors for carrying out an abortion, and even friends who merely provide rides to clinics.
And we must respond to the swell of hard right ideologues who openly champion restrictions without exceptions for rape or incest.
We must oppose the vision that MAGA Republicans clamor for: forced pregnancies, punishment for women and doctors, and zero exceptions for rape or incest.
This is not what America wants. I hope it is not what members of this chamber want either.
I implore everyone whose conscience has been jolted over the past week to vote in favor of today’s measure.
Indeed, I implore everyone who cares about the rights of not just women but of all Americans to support this measure.
Because if five unelected Justices are allowed to decide the fates of millions of women, if the rights women have relied upon for fifty years wither away like ash, if we do not take a stand now to protect a woman’s right to choose, then mark my words: it will be open season—open season—on our God-given freedoms in this great and grand country.
Today it will be Roe. Tomorrow it will be a national ban on abortion. And beyond that, something even more dreadful.
We cannot allow this shameful backslide to happen.
We cannot allow the whims of MAGA Republicans to bully the rest of the country into submission.
I urge my colleagues – take a stand. I urge my colleagues and Americans to fight back. I urge Americans and everyone here to defend the right to choose.
I urge my colleagues vote yes.