Elizabeth Warren

Stand up to Right-Wing Assault on Women's Reproductive Rights Sept. 21, 2015

Elizabeth Warren
September 21, 2015— Washington, D.C.
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I'll be honest. I am deep down furious at the Republicans' scheme to defund Planned Parenthood. I didn't think that the Republican leadership could sink any lower than trying to defund women's cancer screenings and access to birth control, but then I saw the bill that were voting on tomorrow and I felt sick to my stomach.

Here we are just days away from another reckless Republican government shutdown, and the Republicans think the best use of our time is to vote on a bill to give the government the power to intrude on the most wrenching, intimate, private, medical decisions a woman will ever make. The Republicans wanted debate over 20 week abortion ban, so let's talk about exactly what that means.

Nearly 99% of all abortions take place in the first 21 weeks a woman's pregnancy. Let me repeat, nearly 99% are in the first 21 weeks. So based on statistics alone this bill isn't going to make a big difference in the number of abortions, but for the women who get hit, the consequences can be truly horrific. Let's start with the research. Who are these women? Who are the one percent to get an abortion after 20 weeks?

Who? Women or girls who are the victims of rape, incest, or domestic violence, and were too frightened to ask for help any sooner. Who? Women whose doctors have told them that if they don't end their pregnancies, pregnancies they really wanted, their kidneys could fail, or their hearts could give out, or they couldn't get chemotherapy that they may need to save their lives. Who? Women who go for an ultrasound and get the worst possible news, that their fetus has a giant hole in its stomach, or organs outside its body, or a deformed head. And the fetus either has no chance of survival, or has a severe abnormal with you that would mean a short life filled with pain.

Research also shows that women who have had later abortions are more likely to be young, very young, girls really, and didn't understand they were pregnant. They are more likely to live in places where getting an abortion means driving three hours or more to find a doctor who will perform one. And they are more likely to be poor, and need to save up money to pay for the procedure. That's who gets hit by this.

Now, I've taken a close look at the Republican bill to see just how hard they get hit, and want to put it right out here in the open for everyone to see. There are no, I repeat no, exceptions in this bill for the condition of the fetus. Even if a woman knows at 20 weeks that her child will die immediately after birth, she would still be required to carry that pregnancy for months. An 18 year old survivor of rape or incest must wait until she can provide written proof that she received counseling from a doctor. Then that counseling is loaded with hurdles. The counseling must come only from a doctor who refuses to perform abortions, and who doesn't work in an office with another doctor who does.

Think about it. Prolong the pain, and anxiety, and fear for anyone who lives in rural areas. Or anyone who was making it barely paycheck to paycheck, and can't miss multiple days of work make it twice as hard to get any help. And if the victim is a victim of rape or incest and is a minor it gets even worse. A girl 10, 12, 14 years old, this girl must face the same challenges and must provide written proof that she reported the crime to the police, even if turning in a family member or announcing to the world that she's been raped could destroy her life in a million different ways.

I cannot imagine that the United States Senate would pass a law to require a frightened 12 year old girl to submit written proof that she had called the police to report a rape by her mother's boyfriend, before she could terminate that pregnancy. That kind of cruelty is barbaric, and it has no place in our laws.

But this isn't just about the tiny number of women who seek abortions after 20 weeks. No, this horrifying bill that we’ll vote on tomorrow is just one more piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated, right-wing plan to attack women's health and reproductive rights. A funding cut here, a new restriction there, month after month, year after year, and Roe vs Wade will be chipped away to nothing. That's what this is all about. That's what this has always been all about.

We have lived in an America where women died in back-alley abortions. We've lived in an America where high school girls tried poison and coat hangers to try to end pregnancies. We have lived in an America where young women who faced unwanted pregnancies took their own lives. We have lived in that America, and we are not going back, not now, not ever.

We stand here, on the brink of another reckless Republican government shutdown. We all remember what happened the last time the Republicans shut the government down. Twenty-four billion dollars was flushed down the drain, for a political stunt. Twenty-four billion dollars that could have gone to help mothers and their babies prenatal care, better infant nutrition, head-start classes, medical research on birth abnormalities, instead the money was flushed away by Republicans who want to play political games more than they want to help children and families all across this country.

I urge my colleagues to vote no on this terrible bill. Stand up to this right wing assault on women and families. Instead of trying to do the job of physicians and telling women what's best for their own medical care, Republicans in the United States Senate should start doing the job of legislators, and get to work on this nation's budget. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield.

Speech from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uTPYiEqsUc.