WASHINGTON [5.10.22] — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) delivered a speech from the Senate floor urging her colleagues to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would preserve the basic protections of Roe v. Wade in law.

You can access video of Sen. Smith’s remarks here and the full remarks are included below.

“Justice Alito, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, and radical Republican state legislators across the country believe that they should have the power – that they know better than American women, whose lives and stories they will never know,” said Sen. Smith in her remarks from the Senate floor.

“To that I say: How dare they? When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I saw firsthand the capacity of women to make good decisions about their health, their bodies, and their lives. To suggest otherwise is insulting to the dignity of women as full adult humans, and as equal citizens of this nation.

“This is the result of a decades-long campaign by Republicans and their dark money donors to put anti-choice Justices on the Supreme Court, to overturn Roe, and strip women of our constitutional rights.

“For the first time in my living memory, the Supreme Court is about to take away a fundamental constitutional right, and it is important that Americans can see who is on their side, and who is responsible.”

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

Floor Speech: Women’s Health Protection Act

May 10, 2022

M. President –

I rise today in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, and I urge my colleagues to join us in standing up for our fundamental rights to freedom, autonomy, and self-determination.

Make no mistake: that’s what this vote is about: who has the power, who has the freedom to decide, when your own health, livelihood, and life are on the line.

There is nothing more American than the values of freedom and individual autonomy. 

And yet.  The Supreme Court is about to declare that women in this country are NOT guaranteed the freedom to make their own private decisions about abortion.

Justice Alito, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, and radical Republican state legislators across the country believe that they should have the power – that they know better than American women, whose lives and stories they will never know.

To that I say: How dare they?

When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I saw firsthand the capacity of women to make good decisions about their health, their bodies, and their lives. To suggest otherwise is insulting to the dignity of women as full adult humans, and as equal citizens of this nation.

But that’s where we are: Justice Alito’s draft opinion is a wakeup call, and a call to action.  Reading his opinion was like a gut-punch, but it is not a surprise.  And it didn’t just happen.

This is the result of a decades-long campaign by Republicans and their dark money donors to put anti-choice Justices on the Supreme Court, to overturn Roe, and strip women of our constitutional rights.

This is why this vote is so important.  For the first time in my living memory, the Supreme Court is about to take away a fundamental constitutional right, and it is important that Americans see who is on their side, and who is responsible.

Extremist Republicans have been working for this goal for decades.  And yet, now that the moment is almost here, they keep trying to change the subject. In fact, they want to talk about anything but.  Including by spreading misleading information about what the Women’s Health Protection Act would really do.

Which is to put the protections of Roe v. Wade into statute.

Why are Republicans running from the issue, after years of campaigning? Because Americans don’t want to overturn Roe, and anti-choice Republicans know they are on the wrong side of history, public opinion, and over half the American electorate.

That’s why this vote is important – we will not let them dodge their responsibility for this outrageous attack on women’s freedom.

Now, some Republicans are saying that this is all a tempest in a tea pot.  Don’t worry, they say, all the Supreme Court is about to do is hand power back, for the states to decide on abortion.  Do not believe this.  The American people deserve to know where this goes next. 

Today we are fighting on the Senate floor to preserve in law the basic protections of Roe v. Wade.  But extremist Republicans have been clear - their end goal is to secure a nationwide ban on abortion.  As Senator McConnell said this weekend, it’s not a secret that the Senate Republican caucus is opposed to reproductive rights.  And if Senate Republicans win the majority, a nationwide ban is, quote, “worthy of debate.”  That is the post-Roe future with Republicans in charge.

Even though a majority of Americans in all States believe that abortion should be legal, Republicans have been clear that a nationwide ban is their goal.

At the same time, Republican state legislators are brazenly moving forward extremist policies that go way beyond depriving women of their essential freedoms - they punish and criminalize women. 

Take for example, a Missouri mother of two, facing a high-risk pregnancy, who travels to Illinois for an abortion because she is worried about being there for her existing children. Missouri Republicans want her to be labeled a felon when she returns home.

Or take the woman in Louisiana, who has an abortion after her IUD failed and she had an unexpected pregnancy. Louisiana Republicans want her convicted of homicide.

Or take the Texas woman, who hoped and prayed for years for a baby, only for her doctor to find a fatal fetal anomaly at 22 weeks. Texas Republicans want her to carry the pregnancy for another 18 weeks, no matter the risk to her life, and no matter the trauma she’ll face as strangers continue to congratulate her on the baby she’ll never get to know.  

And so I say again: How dare these Republicans think that they know better than the women who live these stories.

This is the post-Roe world that Republicans want, and we won’t stand for it.

If you think this struggle doesn’t affect you or someone you care about, it does.

One in four American women will have an abortion.  Women who are Democrats, Republicans and independents, women from all places and of all faiths. For these women, abortion isn’t about politics, it’s about health care.  Most of them never expected to be part of this statistic, but life doesn’t always go according to plan. Every day, women deal with situations they never imagined, and they deserve the freedom and autonomy to decide for themselves what to do, and what’s best for them.

With this vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, we are showing who we stand with, and what we believe - the fundamental freedom of all people to make the best decisions for their health, their families, and their futures. 

Thank you, I yield the floor.

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