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tv   U.S. Senate Sens. Van Hollen Murphy Whitehouse Sanders Cortez Masto ...  CSPAN  May 11, 2022 2:16am-3:32am EDT

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is unacceptable. i know a majority of people in the united states believe that women have the right to make these most personal, these most intimate decisions themselves with the advice of their physician and whoever else that they want to consult. this is not about politics. this is not about the opinions of folks who think that they know better. let's preserve the right of women to do what they think is best. that's why we have to pass the women's health protection act, and why i would urge all my colleagues to search their heart and listen to the stories that people will tell them, and understand that the right thing to do is to protect reproductive freedoms and rights in america. madam preside evening.
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and it's because eight days ago our country received a terrible wake-up call, a leaked draft opinion from the supreme court of the united states indicated that a majority of five justices may be on the verge of overturning the constitutional protections of reproductive freedom set forth in roe v. wade we don't know if this draft opinion will be the final decision, but we do know there's a very high chance that the supreme court of the united states will soon blow up 50 years of precedent and strip women of their constitutional right to make choices about their own bodies. and their own self-determination. and while the content of this opinion is shocking, it's not totally surprising.
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this is the premeditated outcome of years -- years -- of plotting and planning by the right wing legal movement and the republican party. candidate donald trump promised the nation he would handpick justices who would overturn roe v. wade. on the campaign trail, he even claimed that roe would be overturned, quote, immediately, once he assumed office, and he stated on national television that women who receive abortions should be punished. leader mcconnell and senate republicans made up their own rules and then broke their own rules in order to play their part in this scheme. first senate republicans refused to even hold a hearing on president obama's supreme court nominee, merrick garland. on the grounds that it was a
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presidential election year. four years later, senate republicans rushed through one of president trump's own supreme court nominees just weeks before the 2020 election. and in between, senate republicans carved out an exception to the senate filibuster rule so they could push through all three of trump's antichoice supreme court picks -- neil gorsuch, brett kavanaugh and amy coney barrett. each of these nominees raised their right hand before the senate judiciary committee and swore under oath that they respected the weight of judicial precedent. in fact, when brett kavanaugh was asked about roe v. wade, he pointed to plan parenthood v. casey which affirmed the court holding in roe establishing a constitutional right to abortion, and he called the decision in casey precedent on precedent.
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a double precedent. but, madam president, let's be very clear, this draft opinion has no respect for judicial precedent. if the draft holds, all three of president trump's nominees to the supreme court, along with some others already on the bench, will have deliberately deceived and defrauded the american public. right wing ideologues set out to stack the court with justices ready and willing to overturn roe v. wade. now this right wing establishment, this machinery is on the verge of achieving their goal, even though their win will be a horrible loss for the reputation of the supreme court, a horrible loss for the integrity of our constitution, and most of all a horrible loss for the american people. madam president, more than half of the women and girls of
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reproductive age in our country live in states that would likely ban or severely restrict abortion if the supreme court overturns roe v. wade. 13 states have so-called trigger laws that will kick into effect automatically the day roe is overturned. nine states have passed laws that were struck down in the past because they violated the protections of roe, but those laws could come back if roe v. wade is overturned. many of these laws we're talking about are extreme. one trigger law in kentucky would ban all abortions at any point in pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape, no exceptions for incest, or a situation in which a child could be born with a fatal birth defect. another trigger law, in idaho,
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would make providing an abortion at any point in pregnancy, and under almost any circumstances, a felony crime punishable by five years in prison. a texas law that's on the books right now would put doctors in jail or fine them up to $10,000 for prescribing pills for medication abortions through tele-health or the mail for women more than seven weeks pregnant. and a law that's been on the books since 1931 in michigan would snap back into effect, making nearly all abortions at any point in pregnancy a felony. and women who undergo medication abortions would be made felons, even in the case of rape and incest. just last week state legislators in the louisiana house advanced a bill through committee that would allow women who obtain
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aboringses at any time in -- abortions at any time in pregnancy to be prosecuted for murder, for murder. experts say this extreme law could also be used to restrict emergency contraception and in vitro fertilization, which is aity cal process that helps -- is a critical process that helps couples with infertility build their families. i've been hearing from my constituents, my constituents in the state of maryland who learned how dangerous the situation is, for women and families across the country. one constituent, named connie, shared her story of taking emergency contraception after she was attacked and raped by a stranger at the age of 18. she told me about the importance of being able to make that choice about her body and her future. instead of potentially becoming pregnant because of a rape.
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today, connie is a social worker, a therapist, and has a wonderful son. i've received other testimonials from constituents across the state of maryland who shared their stories and expressed their deep concern and fear about the court striking down roe v. wade. madam president, if roe is overturned, women living in states where safe and legal abortion is banned will have to travel away from their homes, away from their communities, away from their families simply to exercise control over their own bodies. those who lack the money or the time will either be forced to carry an unwanted prance why i to term -- pregnancy to term, or find somebody performing abortions in the shadows in their states. a throwback to the dangerous back alley abortions. in 1965, eight years before the
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roe v. wade decision, illegal abortion accounted for 17%, 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth. that past could soon be our present. so, madam president, you see, this supreme court decision doesn't just turn back the clock on precedent. it turns back the clock on public health as it strips women of their reproductive freedoms. and in a world where roe has been overturned, as you drive across our great country, your rights will change from state to state as you cross each state border. that's the result of taking away a constitutional right, and that's why polling shows the great majority of the american
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people do not want the supreme court to take away the rights under roe v. wade. now, i'm proud to represent a state that has codified a woman's right to reproductive choice. in fact, during my very first campaign for public office the right to reproductive choice was the defining issue in my election to the maryland general assembly. it was another time when there was great fear that a supreme court might overturn roe v. wade and so i ran on the pro-choice ticket, and after i was sworn in, in a matter of months, my colleagues and i passed a bill in 1991 codifying roe v. wade as a matter of maryland state law. but here's the thing -- laws like the one we have in maryland, laws like the one we
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passed back in 1991, will be on the chopping block if these decade -- if this decades-long right wing project continues to go according to plan. because the republicans' ultimate objective isn't just to overturn roe v. wade. it's to enact a federal law passed in this senate and in the house banning abortion nationwide. last week leader mcconnell acknowledged that a national ban on abortion was a real possibility, during an interview with "usa today." that should sound alarm bells all over america. this has been a two-step process. step number one, strike down the constitutional protections of roe v. wade that prohibit elected officials, whether in state legislatures or in
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congress, from enacting laws that prohibit or restrict unnecessarily the right to choose. that's step one. seems we're on the verge of that happening. once you clear the way, step two, enact a federal law in congress banning abortion everywhere in the country. and we've seen exactly how extreme those laws can be from the state examples i cited earlier. that could happen here if this republican right wing project sees its logical end. that federal law would supersede maryland's law. if congress passed that law and it was enacted, state laws like those in maryland protecting the right to choose in maryland would be knocked off the books. that's true of other state laws,
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statutes, that protect a woman's right to choose. no woman in america would be safe to attain a safe and legal abortion if such a national law were enacted. now, madam president, everyone should also understand another huge danger posed by the draft. it's flawed logic not only -- its flawed logic not only would dismantle the right to an abortion. it could also be used to strip away other rights protected by the constitution. i've read justice alito's draft opinion. i read all 98 pages of it. in this opinion, justice alito tries to extinguish, he tries to distinguish this case on abortion from other cases
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involving other individual rights. alito claims that this case is special because it involves abortion and the states interest in protecting life, while other cases do not. well, that's obvious on its face, but it misses the bigger danger in alito's opinion, because it doesn't change the fact that justice alito's reasoning for dismantling the right to obtain an abortion can be used to dismantle many other rights that we currently take for granted as well. justice alito claims that even as you look at the entire constitution, you you cannot fia right to choose for women, you cannot derive that from the constitution. in fact, on page 5 of the draft
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opinion, justice alito writes, and i quote, the constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, end quote. and if we follow justice alito's flawed logic, the same could be said of a host of other rights that are not specifically named in the constitution. the constitution doesn't have the word contraception in it. the constitution doesn't talk about consenting adults engaged in sexual relations. look, this is the thing -- over time the supreme court has recognized components of liberty through a close analysis of the bill of rights in the 14th amendment, and that includes the right to use contraception, the right of consenting adults to have sexual relations with
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whom they choose, and the right to marry who you love. these are rights the american people don't want elected officials to take away, whether they're state legislators or members of the senate or the house. but they're all at peril too if the logic of alito's reasoning is played out. and the terrible irony, the terrible irony here is those who most claim to oppose government regulations of any kind are now the ones rushing to regulate the most intimate, personal, and private aspects of american life they say they don't want government having any role in their life. get out of my way except for when it comes to them taking
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away this right and planning to pass laws that would ban abortion nationally. and as i said, opening the door to go after other liberties as well. so those are the stakes that we're facing as we gather here this evening in anticipation of tomorrow's vote. and that's why we're taking this vote tomorrow. that's why we need to pass the women's health protection act. but even if we fall short this time, having a vote now is important. it's important to the country. democracy requires accountability, and it's important that the american people know where each of the senators stands on this issue. it's a fundamental question. so, madam president, as we move into november toward the midterm elections, the american people will be watching closely
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how members of this body vote on this fundamental constitutional question. and they will look to see who voted to strip away constitutional rights and who rose to protect them. madam president, i believe that the majority of this country, the overwhelming of this majority of this country wants to stand up to protect fundamental liberties in the constitution of the united states. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, madam president. madam president, i will probably get in trouble with somebody for saying this, but the the question of when life begins, the deeper question of what defines life, which biological entities are alive or possess independent existence versus which biological entities are simply part of something else that is alive, man, those are really hard questions. i heard my colleague, senator daines, on the floor earlier tonight talking passionately about his belief that life begins at conception and that
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humans have an obligation to defend a day-old fetus equally to our obligation to defend the life of someone who has been born. now, i disagree. i believe that life begins at birth. i believe that our legal obligation towards a born human is different than our legal obligation toward an unborn fetus. but on that narrow question of when life begins, i don't cast any particular judgment on senator daines for believing what he believes. his belief system is shared by millions of americans. not the majority of americans, but a significant share. this disagreement that he and i have over when legally protected life begins, though, is as
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significant and as important a disagreement as exists, right? because it's about the most foundational questions in human existence. what is life? who decides whether a woman bears a child? who has control over that woman's body? who has control over the most sacred and critical function of a human being, the act of giving birth? it just doesn't get any more important than that set of questions. and given this fundamental disagreement, given the weightiness of these questions, given the large number of americans who sit on either side of these questions, i come to one simple conclusion. no government, no group of politicians should make this decision for anyone else.
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this decision about whether to boater a -- aboater a pregnancy, so socially divisive should and must be left to individuals. in this case to women to decide. over the course of history, millions of have died in fights over another weighty moral issuf whether god exists. and if a god exists, exactly what form that being takes and what it requires of humans. disputes over religion have eradicated entire civilizations. what does this have to do with roe v. wade? well, our founding fathers decided that there were some topics that were so personal, so subject to disagreement and controversy that government should just be barred from registering judgment.
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that's part of the reason why our civilization has not been plagued by wars between religious groups, a reality that continues to paralyze societies to this day in other parts of the world. because we keep government out of the question of which god is the right god. that's up to every american to decide for themselves, even though many americans believe that the consequence of observing or following the wrong god is serious, internal damnation for some. the stakes are huge when it comes to religion, but government sits on the sidelines. to me, that's an imperfect but instructivive corollary to the debate over choice and abortion. the decision about whether to have an abortion is so personal, and a lack of consensus in the country on the question is so unavoidable as to make government intervention just as illegitimate as it would
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be if government tried to dictate to someone which religion they should follow. that's not the exact route that the supreme court traveled to get to the roe decision, but it helps me understand why from 1973 until today the decision about whether or not to have an abortion has been a constitutional right of the individual, not the constitutional right of the government to decide. frankly, it's always been really hard for me to square how republicans, who so readily evangelize about small government, about the importance of putting families and their decision-making processes first, about the evil of public-sector overreach, are so enthusiastic about the government micromanaging personal decisions, about pregnancy or marriage or adoption.
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small government is great, i guess, for corporations, but it's not so great when it comes to the most intimate decisions that families make. and as i've said on this floor before, it's also hard to take seriously republicans passionate pleas for this body to defend the existence of an unborn fetus when they seem to care so little about many of the existential threats that are posed to every american after they are born. today, this day, over 100 americans are going to die from gunshot wounds, from murders and suicides. and whether my republican colleagues agree with me or not that stricter gun laws is part of the solution to this uniquely american epidemic that plagues those that are born, i don't know that i've ever heard a republican speech dedicated to this crisis on the floor of the senate, and for dozens dedicated to the cause of those
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before birth. it seems that after birth, life matters a little bit less to some people in this body. so that's what i think. as i said, i'll probably get into some hot water for admitting that i understand the arguments that people like senator daines make. i don't agree with his views, but i understand them. and my hope is that as we begin this debate over the future of reproductive choice and health in this country, as this debate heats up, because it's not going away, we're taking a vote tomorrow, but this is a debate that's going to consume this nation if the alito opinion becomes law, which i believe it will. my hope is that we're honest about the complexity of this debate. but the republicans are equally honest in the claims that they make. let me just briefly tell you what i mean.
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today i heard republican senators making a whole bunch of claims that are just so ungrounded in truth as to diminish the quality of what should be a very important debate on a very weighty subject. for instance, i heard senators make the claim that the protesters who were protesting outside or near supreme court justice' homes, slettened violence -- threatened violence against those justices. some might have heard it on some unreputable website. it's not true. you can object to protesters being outside of public officials' homes. it's happened to all of us, by the way, but don't make up threats of violence just because it makes for a better story. i heard one senator say that the women's health protection act,
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for which i will proudly vote tomorrow, allows for garage abortions. that's not true. that's just plainly not true. every state requires that abortions be performed in licensed health care facilities, and nothing in the bill changes it. don't say that just because it makes a better story. many republicans claim that the bill we're taking up tomorrow allow abortions up to the date of birth. that's not true either. the women's health protection act, it does codify roe v. wade, but roe only protects a woman's right to have an abortion without restriction until viability. and then afterward, protects for the woman's health or risk of doath. the bill does not -- death. it does not expand beyond what
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currently exists in case law. so i'm going to be honest with my colleagues about the admitted complexities, the political, moral complexities of this debate, but i expect opponents of the bill that we are debating tomorrow to be equally honest in the arguments they make as well. so i'll -- i'll have a lot more to say about this topic as we begin what i think is a debate that will consume this nation, rightfully, over the course of the coming weeks and months, but today i will leave it there. i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i'm here for the 14th time to keep unmasking the scheme to control our supreme court, a scheme that is now poised to
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destroy a woman's right to make her own reproductive health choices and to smash foundational supreme court precedent to get there. last week "politico" confirmed a fear many of us have had for many years many we now see -- years. we now see that the supreme court has five votes toker eradicate roe v. wade. for nearly half a century, women in this country have relied on roe's recognition that our constitutional right to privacy includes the right to decide when to have a child. this is one of the most profoundly personal and life-changing decisions anyone can make. now the draft opinion from justice alito shows in black and white how the court plans to steamroll over that right and
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afterwards probably many others that are anchored in that same american right to privacy. if justice alito's draft opinion becomes law, women in this country will have a well-established constitutional right stripped away. that has not happened before. already 13 states have trigger bans that will snap into place the moment that roe is overturned and 13 more will ban or restrict abortions in the near future. it won't stop there. for example, louisiana's republican lawmakers advanced a bill that will criminal size abortion as homicide and allow prosecutors to charge women seeking abortions as criminals. in the week since this news broke, a lot of americans have expressed just how strongly they disagree with the path this court is headed down.
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they are disappointed, they are stunned, they're outraged and they're right. when you take a second to remember what these same justices told us about roe in the past, you can be doubly outraged. i know that senators on the judiciary committee are. we saw the last three republican justices testify in the committee and asked what they thought about roe. each justice came before the committee, each was specifically asked about roe v. wade. here's what they told us. neil gorsuch, roe v. wade is a precedent of the united states supreme court. it has been reaffirmed. brett kavanaugh, it is settled as a precedent of the supreme court entitled to respect under
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principles of stare decisis. amy coney barrett, roe is not a super precedent because calls for its overruling has never ceased, but it doesn't mean that roe shouldn't be overruled, it means that it doesn't fall into the cases that other cases. and add in alito himself, roe v. wade is an important precedent of the supreme court. yet here's what justice alito's draft opinion says. i quote, roe was ee greedgesly wrong -- egregiously wrong from the start and its decision has had damaging consequences. there was no mention of wrong from the start when we asked about roe. does seriously think that this was a sudden new epiphany that
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came over the federal society justices in the last few weeks? none -- none managed to mention their belief that roe v. wade was ee -- egregiously wrong from the start. whether it was outright lying or confirmation hearing hide-the-ball tricks. it was dishonorable and dishonest. if that is what you believe as a judge, own it. don't keep your views secret until you have the votes to make your move. that may be clever politics but it's politics, not judging. it is a big tell about this captured court. since the news broke, republicans have tried desperately to change the subject. the minority leader says, the real outrage is not the
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obliteration of women's rights but that we found out about it a month early. he says, this lawless action should be investigated and punished as fully as possible. other senate republicans called for the f.b.i. to have the person identified. it was called an egregious affront to the court and those who work here. look, as to the leak, mr. chief justice, go for it. investigate away. send the marshals. but to my republican colleagues sharpening their pitchforks and calling for criminal prosecutions, spare me. spare me the faux outrage. as former white house ethics counsel explains, the supreme court has no code of ethic
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ethics. so what crime would the f.b.i. investigate? as for the affront to the institution, i suggest everyone consider the real rot at the core of the supreme court. if you care about the independence and integrity of the court, it's not this leak you should be outraged about. it's that for the first time in the history of the united states supreme court the selection of supreme court justices was farmed out, handed off to a private organization. and justices were selected in some back room with zero transparency into how the selections were made, how the lists were assembled and zero transparency into the dark money
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that flowed into that private organization while the selections were being made. who paid what to have a seat at the federalist society's judicial selection turnstile. we know from new reporting that it was the federalist society's leonard leo who laid out the road map for trump on the federal court system with the goal of, and i quote, transforming the foundational understanding of rights in america. so much for balls and strikes, huh? leo came up with the list of judges that would please the republican base from among what he called what was the decades of conservative lawyers in the pipeline. he became a team with trump's white house counsel and mitch
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mcconnell to keep the judicial nominations effort moving. it was leo who took to the white house where he had extensive access the revised nominee's list that included kavanaugh and barrett. the picks were made by advisors said senator mcconnell with trump's role merely signing off on them. but he never veered from the list of candidates suggested by leo and others. again, this was not about calling balls and strikes. if you want, and i'm quoting here, to have the longest possible impact on the kind of america you want, said leader mcconnell, impact on the kind of america you want, you look at the courts. that's their goal, to change the kind of america we have.
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more accurately the kind of america the far-right mega donors want, i would say. trump noticed. mitch mcconnell, judges, judges, judges, the only thing he wants is judges said trump. we know this happened because the trump white house right up to trump himself said so. trump's own white house counsel joked that he insourced the federalist society into the selection process. as one prominent conservative said this was an enterprise, an enterprise of building a supreme court that will overturn roe v. wade. once the anonymous donors behind the federalist society justice pecking got what they wanted, then came the dark money to jam those nominations through the
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senate. anonymous donations of $17 million, $18 million, $19 million went to phony front groups to promote those backroom chosen federalist society nominees. then once the federalist society of justices were stacked on to the court, flotillas of dark money front groups appeared before them both as litigants and as amicus curiae, orchestrated to signal the republican justices how to rule. and it's pretty likely the same donor network was behind the nomination turnstile, the propaganda machine, and the flotillas. and, oh, by the way, they are winning -- winning with these hand-picked justices at an astonishing rate, 80-0 by one
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count. you see the results of the scheme in this very case, the sponsors of the mississippi abortion law admitted that they passed the law because they knew the new supreme court justices would uphold it, just like a new legislative body had come in. after justice barrett's nomination came in, they changed its -- mississippi changed its position on roe. it all smells of fixry. no wonder that justice sotomayor asked if the constitution and its reading are just political acts. so if colleagues want to talk about demolition of the integrity and independence of the court, then they better have something to say about turning the supreme court over to dark money special interest, about special interest capturing the
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court to serve their right-wing enterprise, a captured court that is delivering for the special interest that stacked it and helping to keep their secrets has had its integrity and independence pretty well demolished already. the last gasp of the scoundrels is to pretend that it's democrats calling out this dark money mess who are the ones undermining the integrity of the court. they even point to a brief of mine where several colleagues and i quoted to the court a poll showing that a majority of americans feel the court is, and i quote the poll here, mainly motivated by politics and that is it all the to be, quoting the poll, restructured to reduce the influence of politics. that's a poll, not a threat. and the court better start paying attention to why the american people feel that way
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rather than quarreling that anyone is threatening or bullying the court by pointing that out. by the way, if threatening is what you want to fuss about, have the decency to be consistent. here's a quote from fox news' host laura ingraham discussing this actual abortion case after the oral arguments were done. forgive my bad language to the pages here. i am quoting her verbatim. we have six republican appointees on this court after all the money that has been raised. the federalist society, all these big fat-cat dinners. i'm sorry, i'm pissed about this. if this court with six justices cannot do the right thing here, the constitutional thing, then i think it's time to do what robert bork said we should do, which is to circumscribe the
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juris disk of this court -- jurisdiction of this court, and if they want to blow it up then that's the way to change things finally. far from pushing back on that threat to blow it up and change things finally, the senate colleague she was talking to said, in a heartbeat. when you're treating an accurate quotation of a poll as a threat, and ignoring a public threat to blow up the court and change things finally, after all the fat cat money spent on the federalist society, no less, forgive me for doubting your sincerity. as senator padilla said in the judiciary committee last week, have the decency to be consistent, at least. justice alito spent over 98 pages trying and failing to justify overturning the decision protecting these rights,
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overturning a decision he told the united states senate was an important precedent of the supreme court. his opinion isn't persuasive to me at all. it reads as snide and cruel. but that's not going to stop these justices from trying to throw us back into an age where women aren't free to make their own choices about their own bodies and their own futures. it looks like the fix went in on that a while ago. and we just weren't told about it in the hearings. so tomorrow, the majority leader will bring before this chamber legislation to protect those rights nationwide, to protect that freedom across this country, and i'm eager to vote for it. we've got to stand against this assault on women's constitutional rights, and i hope some republican colleagues will join us, and particularly i
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hope in the weeks and months ahead that we can find ways to unravel the dark money scheme that has brought this court and our country closer to the brink, because the court that dark money built, it's not done. it's not done trying to reshape america against our will to suit the extreme ideology of the right wing billionaires behind the scheme. there is one good thing in all this darkness, and that is that the american people see this nonsense and have had enough. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you.
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madam president, the recently leaked draft opinion in dobbs v. jackson women's health organization signals what many of us have feared would happen happen -- at least five right wing supreme court justices seem poised to overturn roe v. wade and abolish the constitutional right of women to have an abortion. in my view, the united states senate cannot and must not allow that to happen. we cannot go back to the days when women had to risk their lives to end an unwanted pregnancy. we cannot go back to the days of back alley abortions. we cannot go back to the days of forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy or go through a childbirth that could cause her illness or death. that we cannot go back to.
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in america today it is estimated that one out of every four women will choose to have an abortion by the time they turn 45. in 2019, over 625,000 women in america chose to have an abortion. while no one can say with any degree of certainty how many deaths there will be if abortion is made illegal and women are forced to carry unsafe pregnancies to term, there is no doubt that over a period of time many thousands of american women will die. now, i get very tired of hearing the hypocrisy from the extreme right wing who say, to quote,
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guest the government off our backs. how often have we heard that? get the government off our backs. we want small government. well, i say to those right-wingers, if you wants to get the government off off -- off of of the backs of the american people, then understand that it is women who control their own bodies, not politicians. during the covid crisis, how many times have we heard on this floor, throughout this country, the extreme right wing say the government must not force us to wear a mask? how dare the government do that? government must not force us to have a vaccine. we have the right to do what we want with our bodies.
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well, hypocriteically these very same right wing politicians, who worry so much about their masks and vaccines, they now want the federal government, the state government, and their own local governments to mandate what women cannot and can do with their bodies. how hypocritical can you be? the decision about an abortion must be a decision for the woman and her doctor to make, not the government. and that is why i rise this evening in strong support of the women's health protection act. this legislation would make roe v. wade the law of the land. this legislation would begin to put an end to the relentless assault on the reproductive rights of women that is taking place all across this country.
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but let me be as clear as i can be, madam president. it is not good enough to just talk about passing this bill. if there are not 60 votes in the senate to pass this legislation, and there are not, we must end the filibuster and pass it with 50 votes. you know, i hear a lot of talk from my democratic colleagues about the need for unity. well, if there was ever a time for unity, now is that time. according to poll after poll, year after year, 60% of the american people believe that roe v. wade should be upheld. moreover, according to a recent "washington post"/abc poll, 75%
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of americans say decisions on abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor, including 95% of democrats, 81% of independents, and 53% of republicans. in other words, if the united states senate was truly a representative body of the american people, which for a variety of reasons clearly it is not, we would easily have 60 votes to pass this bill and women would be protected. madam president, it is important for us to remember how we got to where we are today. five years ago, senator mitch mcconnell, republican leader, and the republican party in the senate, ended the filibuster for
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supreme court nominees in order to do what they could not do legislatively, which is to make abortion legal. they didn't have the votes to do that. so in order to get supreme court justices nominated, they ended the filibuster. candidate donald trump promised that he would only nominate supreme court justices who supported overturning roe v. wade. and unfortunately, out of the many lies, endless number of lies trump made during his campaign and presidency, it turns out that this is the one promise that he kept, the one honest statement that he made. further, while it hooks like -- looks like in this rare instance
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trump kept his promise, the republican supreme court justices during their senate confirmation hearings did not. in fact, justice alito and the three justices nominated by president trump, all called roe v. wade an important precedent. during their confirmation hearings. let me quote justice alito at his senate confirmation on january 11, 2006, quote, justice alito, roe v. wade is an important precedent of the supreme court. it was decided in 19373 -- in 1973. so it has been on the books for a long time. it is a precedent that has now been on the books for several decades. it has been challenged. it has been reaffirmed. that's alito. in 2017, justice gorsuch said at his confirmation hearing, quote,
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roe v. wade decided in 1973 is a precedent of the united states supreme court. it has been reaffirmed. a good judge will consider it as precedent of the united states supreme court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other, end quote. 2018, justice kavanaugh said at his confirmation hearing, quote, i said that roe v. wade is settled as a precedent of the supreme court, entitled the respect under principles of stair decisis -- stare decisis. one of the important things to keep in mind about roe v. wade it is that it has been ereaffirmed over the past 45 years, and most prominently, most importantly reaffirmed in planned parenthood v. casey in 1992, end quote. that is justice kavanaugh. today it has become increasingly clear that despite these
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statements to the contrary, the three justices nominated by trump were hired specifically to overturn roe v. wade. and with justice alito at the helm, nominated by president george w. bush, that is precisely what it appears they are set to do. four justices, all appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. is it any wonder why americans all over our country are losing faith in their democracy? well, you know what i believe, madam president -- if republicans can end the filibuster to install right wing justices nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote in order to overturn roe v. wade, democrats can and must end the filibuster to make abortion
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legal and safe. let's be clear. if the supreme court strikes down roe v. wade, abortion bans will immediately go into effect in 22 states throughout america, with four others likely to follow suit. in ten of these states it will be illegal to have an abortion even in cases of rape or incest. for example, in the state of texas, if roe v. wade is struck down it will be considered a felony for any texas doctor to perform an abortion for a woman who was raped or impregnated by a family member. furthermore, that law would actually criminalize abortion, perk both women and doctors -- punishing both women and doctors, who could face years in
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prison if they are found guilty. other states have passed similar type legislation. mississippi's governor has even refused to rule out the banning of contraception as a next step, the banning of contraception. but madam president, let us be clear. the supreme court no matter how it ends up ruling will not be able to ban abortion. if you are wealthy and if you have the means to get on an airplane or drive hundreds of miles to a clinic, you will have access to a safe abortion. but if you are poor or a member of the working class, it is likely that you will not. the reality is that overturning
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roe v. wade would be devastating to low-income and working-class women who do not have the means to travel long distances to get an abortion. madam president, the issue we are discussing tonight is often framed as a woman's issue. i disagree. this is a human rights issue. and if there has ever been a time in american history when the men of this country must stand with the women of this country, this is that moment. madam president, i do find it what amusing that the loudest voices in the republican party demanding that women be forced to give birth against their will are exactly the same people who oppose virtually every effort
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here in congress designed to improve life for children and their mothers. these republicans are opposed -- and some democrats -- are opposed to paid family and medical leave in america. they literally believe that it is acceptable for an employer to force a mother to go back to her job a week after giving birth. our republican colleagues want women, regardless of what they believe, to have a baby, but they could care less about those babies once they are born. these same republicans, without exception, are opposed to extending the $300 a month child tax credit that expired in december and went a long, long way to make it easier for
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working-class families to raise their children with dignity. these same republicans are opposed to universal child care and free prek -- pre-k. madam president, it is no great secret that women throughout the history of our country have had to fight valiantly for their basic human rights against all forms of pay trar can i. patriarchy. let us never forget that when our country was formed women were not just second-class citizens. they were third or fourth class citizens. women have been fighting for equal rights in this country since the 1800's. they didn't receive the right to vote until 1920. if you can believe this -- and people don't know this -- women needed a male cosigner on bank loans until 1974.
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women had to get a male cosigner for a bank loan until 1974. throughout the 1960's, the 1970's, and way, way before that women had to fight for entry into certain professions from which they were barred. the fight for equal pay continues to this day. so, madam president, let us be clear. when it documents rights of women -- when it comes to the rights of women, we cannot go back. we must go forward. we cannot go back to the days when women could not have full access to birth control. we cannot go back to the days of wide-scale domestic violence against women. the time has come for all of us to protect and expand women's
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rights in america. i thank the president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the ms. cortez masto: madam presiden t, we are living in the twilight of roe v. wade and the incredibly important protections for americans that flow from it. for almost 50 years the supreme court held that the constitution safeguarded women's access to critical reproductive health care, including abortion, and rightly so. most american women have never lived without the ability to control their bodies, their health, and their family's economic well-being. as we learned last week from a draft opinion, the supreme court is poised to strip away these fundamental freedoms from women around the u.s. by overturning its own precedent.
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this would be one of the very few times in american history where the court has taken away rights rather than expanding them. if this draft stands, young women today will have fewer choices than their mothers and grandmothers had. the senate has an opportunity to pass federal law to protect the right to choose across this country, and i urge my colleagues to take and pass this legislation and do what a large majority of nevadans and americans want -- to let women make their own decisions. now here's what could happen if the supreme court draft becomes law. if the supreme court overturns long-standing precedent in june, the rights to choose will immediately cease to exist in about 18 states and others will act quickly to pass new bans on critical care. and within months restrictions on reproductive choice will be
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in place in approximately half of the states, meaning that around the world half of women around the country, half of women of child-bearing age will not be able to get critical care where they live. the women who have the money and the time will travel to states like mine that have legal protections for reproductive health care. in nevada, we're already seeing women traveling from texas where an extreme law offers a $10,000 reward to vigilantes targeting anyone who aids and abets abortions. if roe falls it will automatically trigger abortion bans in neighboring idaho and utah. you'll see women traveling from nevada this those states too. the vast majority of women seeking reproductive care won't even have the option to travel for care. we know what happens to these women. the research shows that when people cannot get essential
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reproductive care, their physical, their emotional, and economic health suffers, as does the health of their families. they can face life-threatening pregnancy complications and long-term health impacts. this court decision will strip away women's power to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. that means women will not have the same control over their lives and bodies as men do, and that is just wrong. nevadans understand something fundamental about the right to choose. the fact is that you can never know what circumstances another person faces until you walk in their shoes. and that's why most nevadans want to preserve women's freedom to decide what health care they receive. they know it's not right to impose their own beliefs on others. when americans have such divergent religious views, economic and family
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circumstances and medical histories. and this is why family planning is so important. we've seen it again and again over the years. far-right extreme republican lawmakers want to target the entire spectrum of reproductive health care and family planning services. the laws they are proposing in states like louisiana and tennessee would keep women who want to become pregnant from getting fertility treatments. they could stop women who are raped from getting the morning after pill to prevent a potential pregnancy. these laws could block access to contraception for women who have painful menstrual cycles or other health conditions, or who simply don't want to have a child. it seems that these effects on women don't matter to many on the far right, including mitch mcconnell who is already discussing a nationwide abortion ban that could threaten even nevada's legal protections. that's why my colleagues and i
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are standing up for legislation that will codify women's reproductive freedoms into federal law. the women's health protection act will preserve the right to choose nationally and assure women have access to critical care. if we want our daughters to grow up with the same freedoms we have had for 50 years, we have to act now. we need to stand up for women in america and trust them to make their own decisions about their health, their families, and their lives. madam president, i believe in american women, and that's why this fight for us is now. i thank you, and i yield the floor.
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mr. padilla: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mr. padilla: thank you, madam president. colleagues, this past week, following the leaked supreme court opinion that threatens to overturn roe v. wade, thousands of californians have reached out to my office in the form of phone calls, in the forms of letters, in the forms of e-mails, all to voice their support for the right to choose. it's abundantly clear that congress must pass the women's health protection act and codify the right to an abortion into federal law.
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countless californians and other americans have spoken up, many in public, many in private, to share their own abortion stories. think about students who want to finish high school before starting a family. think of survivors of sexual assault whose abortion reaffirmed their right to choose for their own bodies. think of parents who desperately wanted a child, but upon becoming pregnant learned the devastating news about dangerous health risks associated with that pregnancy. think of the women whose lives were saved by an abortion because abortion is often critical medical care.
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and think about women who remember a time a half a century ago before roe v. wade secured this right, a time when -- don't get me wrong -- abortions still happened but they were unsafe secrets at the time, when women risked their lives for the choice that they needed. madam president, i believe that the right to an abortion is a fundamental right, and i'm proud to represent a state that seriously defends abortion access. california is committed to safe, respectful abortion care for all who need it. that's why californians have stepped up this year with some even traveling to aid women who were threatened by sb-8, the
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texas law that prohibits abortion at six weeks. this is the very law that senator cortez masto referenced a few minutes ago and it's why so many californians are speaking up now. we know that your right to choose should not end at a state border. and it certainly shouldn't rely on your income or your transportation options or whether or not you can afford to take time off from work. all across america, a strong majority support a woman's right to make her own health care decisions. we can't stand by and watch while right-wing politicians and judges seem to roll back the clock on women's rights. that's why i'm voting for the
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women's health protection act and why i urge each and every one of you to do the same. we must secure the right to abortion nationwide. we must protect the fundamental rights of women across the country, not just in a few states but across the country. congress can and must do this by passing the women's health protectionime in nearly
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60 years the queen has been absent from the event.


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