In Floor Speech, U.S. Senator Tina Smith Makes Impassioned Case for Federal Legislation Protecting Reproductive Health Freedoms

WASHINGTON, [2.28.22] – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) delivered a speech from the Senate floor urging her colleagues to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the freedom of all Americans to receive the reproductive health care they need, including abortion.

As reproductive rights face their greatest challenge since Roe v. Wade was decided decades ago, Senator Smith called on her colleagues to pass federal legislation protecting the freedom of every American to make their own decisions regarding their health, their families, and their future.

You can access a video of Sen. Smith’s remarks here.

You can read Sen. Smith remarks as prepared for delivery below:

Women’s Health Protection Act

M_ President, I rise today in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

I’m here today because I believe, as do most in this country, that people should have the freedom to receive the reproductive health care they need, including abortion.  The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect this freedom. 

As the only Senator to have worked at Planned Parenthood, I learned firsthand that if people don’t control their reproductive lives, they don’t control anything in their lives.  Working at Planned Parenthood in Minnesota was an honor, and I had the opportunity to hear the stories of patients, each with individual, personal reasons for receiving an abortion.  This is still the case for the patients who visit these clinics today. 

Here is one story about a woman named Liz from Edina, Minnesota.  At her 18-week ultrasound appointment, Liz’s doctor told her that her pregnancy was incompatible with life.  She would either miscarry, or the baby would die moments after birth.  Because of this diagnosis, she decided to have an abortion.  It was an agonizing experience, but she was able to make the decision on her own terms.

Another story comes from a patient from Minneapolis.  At the age of 20, they were in an abusive relationship and found themselves 7 weeks pregnant.  They went to Planned Parenthood for their abortion.  It was tough to make the lonely drive to and from the clinic, but that abortion helped them break their affiliation with their abuser.  They eventually got back on their feet and could pursue their dreams of going to law school, opening up a marketing firm, and having a family with someone they loved. 

These are stories of people facing one of the most important life decisions we humans ever make—whether to become a parent.  They were free to make these decisions for themselves.  We should all have this same freedom, without politicians and judges looking over our shoulders, telling us what we can and cannot do. 

A majority of Americans agree with this – that abortion should be legal.[1]  They understand that reproductive health care, including abortion, is health care.

Yet today the reproductive rights of women in this country are at the greatest risk since Roe v. Wade was decided decades ago.

And it’s no mystery how we got here.  What’s happening today is the culmination of a more than 40-year effort by conservatives in the Republican Party to radically remake the courts.  It is 2022, and that moment is here:  the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe.  If this happens, half the states in the country will ban abortion entirely.[2]

In anticipation of this moment, right-wing Republican state legislatures have been working to pass laws that will gut women’s health care and severely restrict their freedoms.  What this means is that women’s freedom and autonomy over our own bodies, our right to access the reproductive health care we need, will basically depend on who we are and where we live.  And make no mistake.  Abortion care will always be available to people who have the money.  It will be poor women and women of color who lose their rights.

This is why the Women’s Health Protection Act is so important.  We need to listen to the voices of the majority of Americans who agree: women deserve the freedom and dignity to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.

We can no longer rely on the courts to protect our right to reproductive freedom. 

In a few moments, we will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to abortion in every state.  It would advance racial justice, limit the structural barriers to accessing abortion care, and protect everybody’s freedom to make the best decisions for their health, their families, and their futures.  Colleagues, I urge you to vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.   

M__ President, I yield the floor.


[2] Center for Reproductive Rights Women’s Health Protection Act Toolkit.