May 4, 2022
Senate Democrats Speak On Senate Steps About Urgent Need To Protect A Woman’s Right to Choose 5/03/22 Transcript
Senate Democrats speak on the Senate Steps in response to the leaked Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, jeopardizing a woman’s right to choose and the rights of millions of Americans 5/03/22. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker X: (00:00)
[inaudible 00:00:00]. I just want to point out [inaudible 00:00:17].
Senator Chuck Schumer: (00:18)
We need a few. Okay.
Speaker X: (00:30)
Senator Chuck Schumer: (00:32)
I think we’ve got more people coming. We’ve got a big crowd, it’s nice.
Senator Stabenow: (00:45)
Yes. [inaudible 00:00:46].
Speaker X: (00:46)
[inaudible 00:00:46]. Seconds. [inaudible 00:00:47].
Senator Chuck Schumer: (01:03)
Okay, good morning. And I’m joined by many of my colleagues from the Democratic caucus who you’ll hear from many of them in a minute. Well, this is a dark and disturbing day for America. Last night a report came out that a conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court is ready to overturn Roe V. Wade and uproot decades of precedent affirming a woman’s right to an abortion. It is hard not to feel angry, troubled, and deeply disturbed about what overturning Roe would do to women across America.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (01:46)
More than 20 states have laws or constitutional amendments in place that would outlaw abortions should the Supreme court invalidate Roe. Over 80 million women live in those states, if the report is accurate, the decision would be an abomination, an abomination, one of the worst ever in modern history. Of course, Republicans have sought this outcome for years, so you’d think they’d be celebrating such a decision, but they aren’t. No, this morning Republicans are shamefully scrambling, scrambling to try and distract from the main issue. Republicans are spending all their focus on the leak because they don’t want to talk about Roe V. Wade, where they know they’re on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of American people. Let me say it again, Republicans are spending all their focus on the leak, because they don’t want to focus on Roe V. Wade where they know they’re on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the American people.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (02:54)
Try as they might, they can’t distract from the truth. The blame for this decision falls squarely on Senate Republicans who spent years pushing extremist judges and justices while claiming this day would never come, but come it has. So in light of this potential ruling, I want to make three things very clear. First, it is our intention for the Senate to hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. Second, a vote on this legislation is no longer an abstract exercise, this is as urgent and as real as it gets. We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every Senator stands on. Third, to the American people I say this, the elections this November will have consequences because the rights of a hundred million women are now on the ballot.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (04:02)
To help fight this court’s awful decision I urge every American to make their voices heard this week and this year, call your members, write them, call your senators, write them, email them, text them. And most of all, cast your ballots this November. Because if Roe V Wade is overturned, we have to assume there’s more to come. The question is, what will these Republicans, these right-wing Republicans target next? Will they have the Supreme Court overturn Griswold so they can prevent American women from contraception? They may say, “We wouldn’t do that because of precedent.” Why would anyone believe them anymore? Will they have the Supreme Court overturn overrun Obergefell so that they can prevent same sex marriage? They may say, “We wouldn’t do that because of precedent.” Why would anyone believe them?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (05:04)
Nope, it’s clear that they will try to turn back the clock to a time when women, people of color, LGBTQ people are second class citizens. I do not believe the hard Right will succeed. I still firmly believe in my very bones the story of American democracy is the story of progress. Democrats are going to fight this decision all the way for as long as it takes. We will not relent. We will not give up. We know history is on our side and we’re determined to preserve this precious rights that are the bedrock of this great nation. I thank all my colleagues for being here and call on our great leader on so many of these issues, Senator Murray.
Senator Murray: (05:56)
Thank you. If the report we saw last night is true, that the Supreme Court plans to end the constitutional right to abortion in this country and overturn Roe V. Wade, this is a five alarm fire. It is exactly the kind of dangerous outcome I have been warning about and was always the goal of Republicans. They are already banning abortion in state legislatures across our country. They are already planning for a federal ban right here in the Senate. And they already pushed through the Far Right Justices to overturn Roe and end the right to an abortion.
Senator Murray: (06:41)
In a matter of days or weeks, the horrifying reality is we could live in a country without Roe, a country where women are forced to remain pregnant no matter their personal circumstances. And yes, we are also talking about situations like rape or incest. A country where extreme politicians will control patient’s most private decisions. And let’s be clear, abortion bans will not actually end abortions, they will just make them unsafe and they will hurt the women with the least resources and the tightest budgets.
Senator Murray: (07:23)
I am furious, furious, that Republicans could be this cruel, that the Supreme Court could be this heartless, that in legislatures across the country extreme Republicans are ready for their trigger bans to go into effect, they’re excited even. It is craven, and we won’t stand for it. I’m not going to sit quietly, and neither should any of you. I know for so many women across the country, this is deeply personal, and it is deeply personal to me too.
Senator Murray: (07:58)
I remember life before Roe. I knew people who did not have someone to turn to for a safe abortion, who were not wealthy, so even if they could find one, they might not be able to afford it. People who got unsafe procedures that left them, at a very young age, unable to give birth, that has stayed with me to this day, as have so many of the stories I have heard from women after Roe. I know how big of a difference it has made in the lives of so many women across the country, which is why I am furious at the idea that Republicans are going to take us backward, that this will be the first generation of women with fewer rights than their mothers. My heart goes out to everyone across the country who is feeling the weight of this news, but I’m not done fighting on this issue, far from it, and I know women across the country are not either. We will not be still, we will not be silent and we will not back down.
Senator Murray: (09:08)
And to those who have not felt the weight of this moment yet, who don’t think this could happen, who don’t think it matters to them, it is time to wake up. Every single person in every single state needs to realize this impacts you, your choices and your rights. It’s not happening to someone else in some other state, it is happening everywhere and the highest court in the land is preparing to rip away your rights at this very moment. We need to fight back with everything we’ve got right now. We need a pro-choice majority in the Senate. We need to protect our pro-choice majority in the House. We need to send President Biden a bill that will protect every woman’s right to an abortion, and we are going to keep pushing to make it happen, because women’s rights are at stake, women’s health is at stake, women’s economic security is at stake, women’s lives are at stake. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (10:17)
Senator Durbin, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Durbin: (10:26)
Thank you very much, Senator Schumer. America woke up today to an unusual event in our democracy, the news that a constitutional right is about to be taken away from the American people. I’m an amateur historian and I’m searching in history for a comparable situation where some right which we’ve entertained and used and counted on for 50 years is gone, that’s what the Alito opinion is all about, taking away that right to choose, that right for individual women to have product reproductive freedom in this country.
Senator Durbin: (10:58)
I read parts of this Alito decision this morning to try to absorb what his thinking was, and I was stuck on one point. He seemed to make a very strong argument that since the word abortion is not in the constitution, abortion can’t be constitutionally protected. I would say to Justice Alito and the others who are joining him, try to find the word privacy in that constitution, you won’t. It’s not in there, but in Griswold v. Connecticut, and in other cases, we decided that was part of what being an American is all about. If they’re going to be so literal in their translation, be prepared, because this culture war is going to take us beyond abortion, it’s going to take us into family planning, the rights of those who are LGBTQ and certainly gay marriage are all at stake in this culture war that the Supreme Court is pushing on the American people now.
Senator Durbin: (11:46)
I guess it’s a day of happiness for Senator McConnell and others, they’ve been focusing on changing the federal judiciary. Look at the lengths they went to make sure they got an extra vote on the Supreme Court, to leave the vacancy for 10 months after Antonin Scalia died, to say to President Obama, “No, you were not elected for a four year term, you get three. And on the fourth year, we’ll decide whether or not you have the power to fill an appointment on the Supreme Court and fill a vacancy.” Well, you know what Senator McConnell did, he held out and he got his wish. Trump won, and he came back with the Justice who would serve his political needs.
Senator Durbin: (12:21)
That is the reality of the Supreme Court today. The credibility of that institution is at stake as long as we are dealing with this kind of extremism. We have to gather together and say, there’s one basic saving grace, the constitution envisioned so many things, it even envisioned this possibility. And as Senator Murray said earlier, there’s an answer. The answer is in November, when the American people stand up and say, this is enough of this culture war at the expense of our freedoms in America. We need to have people representing us in the House and in the Senate who will stand up for basic freedoms and not take them away from the American people. It’s a chore we all have now, but I would just say to you, this morning, the contours of the November election this year changed. We’re going to find across America that this decision by the Alito court is going to be a decision which is going to reverberate around America in states, Red and Blue, and the American people will have the last word.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (13:14)
Thank you, Dick. Senator Stabenow.
Senator Stabenow: (13:17)
Thank you, Senator Durbin. This is a very serious moment in our country for women and for our healthcare, and that’s why we’re here today. If this leaked Supreme Court decision is accurate, it will have grave consequences for women all across our country. It would be the ultimate intrusion into a woman’s right to privacy, the ultimate intrusion into a woman’s right to privacy. Imagine what this would mean for a 12 year old in Michigan who is raped. If Roe V Wade falls, Michigan will revert back to a 1931 law that makes abortion at any stage a felony with no exceptions for rape or incest. Who should decide what’s best for this 12 year old, the girl and her family working with her doctor based on their own faith, or a Right-wing Supreme Court and Republicans in the United States Senate?
Senator Stabenow: (14:29)
Imagine what this means for a woman who learns that the pregnancy that she has wanted so desperately isn’t viable and her own life is at risk, who should decide what happens to her, the woman supported by her family and her doctor based on her own religious faith or a Right-wing Supreme Court and Republicans in the United States Senate? It all comes down to who should make decisions about your health, your life, and your future as a woman in America, Right-wing Republican lawmakers, Right-wing members of the United States Supreme Court, or you as an American woman? Democrats stand with women across our country who have the right to make their own reproductive decisions. We need to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act now, and then we need to vote in November. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (15:39)
Thank you, Debbie.
Senator Stabenow: (15:40)
Senator Chuck Schumer: (15:40)
Senator Smith: (15:43)
Thank you. So when I worked at Planned Parenthood, I saw firsthand, every day, the capacity of women to make good decisions about their healthcare, including abortion. And this morning, those women and women all across this country, people all across this country woke up outraged. How dare, how dare this conservative, Right-wing Supreme Court, how could they do this? How could they take away that right? This is the first time in my living memory that the United States Supreme Court has actually taken away a right. And we are talking here about the most American of values, the values of freedom and autonomy and self-determination. And we all know here today that this didn’t just happen. This is the end result of a decades long campaign fueled by dark money in this country to overturn Roe versus Wade and capture the courts, that is what we are seeing today.
Senator Smith: (16:49)
And it is clear as a bell, Justice Alito’s draft comments said, “Roe must be overturned.” And this will affect everyone in this country. Do you know that today, over half of all abortions are medication abortions. And so if you are out there and thinking, this is not going to affect me because I’m still going to be able to go and get that medication in order to make my own decisions about my own healthcare, no, that is not the case at all. It’s hard not to think that people who are supporting this, these Republican legislators, are so out of the mainstream, so out of the mainstream. 70% in every state across the country, at least, of Americans believe that abortion should not be banned. So that is the work that we have ahead of us, we need to organize, organize, organize, we need to vote on the Senate floor for what we believe in, and we need to do everything we can to protect this fundamental right.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (17:48)
Senator Cantwell: (17:54)
Democrats have been fighting for American’s healthcare rights and Republicans have been trying to overturn them. They’ve tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act and we have stopped them. And now you don’t hear them talking about that because they now want to talk about taking away women’s reproductive healthcare rights. We are going to fight in the United States Senate to make sure that every American understands that 50 years of settled law, 50 years of Republican nominees coming before the committee and saying that they believe this is settled law to now foist on the American public, an invasion of their rights to privacy, and pretend that those rights of privacy do not exist in the constitution, these people are dead wrong.
Senator Cantwell: (18:47)
The American people know that those rights to privacy affect so many aspects of their lives, they affect every aspect, whether it’s the government intruding on their lives, whether it’s other individuals or corporations, they believe that we can make laws to protect an individual right to privacy, and that also is part of determining what we as women do with our own bodies. So the American people, the majority, as my colleague just said, the majority of American people support this policy as settled law, the majority of states support this as settled law, and now we just need a few men on the Supreme Court to come clean about the intentions that they never made clear to a Senate Judiciary Committee and have our Republican colleagues come clear about this, because they are overturning your constitutional right and we in America, the women of America will march to protect these rights on behalf of all of us. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (20:01)
Thank you, Maria. [inaudible 00:20:01].
Senator Whitehouse : (20:01)
If the Alito opinion becomes the decision of the United States Supreme Court, please understand that it does not emerge from a vacuum, it emerges from a concerted and often covert campaign to capture the court. A campaign that Senate Democrats and the DPCC, thank you, Debbie Stabenow, documented in May of 2020 with the captured court’s report. Four months later, we predicted the effect on reproductive rights and chronicled the dark money running behind this operation on that issue, and I want to thank in particular Tammy Baldwin, who led that report, Debbie Stabenow, the DPCC chair who published it, Chuck Schumer, our leader who led it, and Senators Feinstein, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, Hirono, and Duckworth. As we fight this, we will continue to look behind the curtain at why we are where we are. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (21:13)
Our last speaker is Senator Blumenthal.
Senator Blumenthal: (21:17)
Thank you to my Senate colleagues, all of us Democrats for standing strong on this issue. I’m so proud to be with them today. I was a law clerk to Justice Blackmun, the author of Roe V. Wade, shortly after The United States Supreme Court decided seven to two, not even close, seven to two, to make Roe V. Wade established precedent as it has been for the last 50 years. And we asked every one of the last three appointees on Roe, “Do you respect established precedent?” And every one of them said, “We respect established precedent.” My question for those men behind those walls and pillars is, “Did you lie to us? And how do you expect the American people to respect you if you lied to them?”
Senator Blumenthal: (22:22)
Now this draft language is absolutely abhorrent. The thought of leaking any document from the Supreme Court would’ve been unimaginable to me as a law clerk, but even more unimaginable would have been the language of this draft opinion, which is contemptuous of the American people and of Congress. They can change the language, they can dress it up, they can smooth the edges, but the fact is overturning Roe V. Wade would leave American women abandoned and alone. And it’s not just American women, one in four women in America seek an abortion. Every one of you, every one of you knows someone, every one of you love someone who has had or needed an abortion. This issue is not a women’s issue, women’s healthcare is a right, but it is about all of us, about our families.
Senator Blumenthal: (23:33)
And so we know what to do, we need to vote to codify Roe V. Wade through the Women’s Health Protection Act to stop all of the restrictions, the bans, the trap laws, all of the impediments to women having access to healthcare, and going back to an age when literally women died, women died seeking abortion. I hope that states will do what Connecticut did just last week and adopt measures that protect patients and providers who defy Texas and states like it, the 23 that may impose the bounty hunter restrictions and the other important laws to protect those patients and providers as Connecticut did. I am proud to be from Connecticut, and we should move right away to make reproductive rights part of this November’s election, reproductive rights will be on the ballot and women will vote and they will make sure their voices are heard. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (24:52)
Thank you, Dick. Thank you, my colleagues, we are focused like a laser on getting this vote shortly and on the 2022 elections. Thank you.
Senator Stabenow: (25:01)
Speaker 10: (25:01)
Senator, what do you say to the Democrats who support maintaining the filibuster?
Speaker 11: (25:01)
Senator, will you try to end the filibuster to get this bill passed?
Speaker X: (25:12)