On Thursday U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was joined by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on the Senate floor to make clear that a politically motivated bill severely restricting women’s access to reproductive care is a non-starter in the Senate. The floor speeches came just before Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced an abortion ban that is being championed by right-wing special interest groups as part of their nationwide campaign to restrict women’s health care access. Sen. Murray also shared a heartbreaking story from Judy Nicastro, a constituent who was faced with every pregnant woman’s worst nightmare.
“I think more than ever right now, after we emerge from a damaging and completely unnecessary government shutdown, the American people want us focused squarely on jobs and the economy,” said Senator Murray in her speech. “But we are here today to make one thing abundantly clear: and that is that this extreme, unconstitutional abortion ban is an absolute non-starter. It’s going nowhere in the Senate and Republicans know it.”
Murray’s full speech follows.
“I think more than ever right now, after we emerge from a damaging and completely unnecessary government shutdown, the American people want us focused squarely on jobs and the economy.
“It’s what every poll says. It’s what every one of our constituents say. And it’s absolutely what’s needed at a time when families continue to struggle to make ends meet.
“But, instead of working with us, across the aisle, on jobs and economic growth it seems like Republicans are focused on something else entirely — politics.
“In fact, in just a short while, the senior Senator from South Carolina will be introducing a bill that is blatantly political — a bill that not only undermines a woman’s access to her doctor, but also restricts an array of reproductive health services.
“But we are here today to make one thing abundantly clear: and that is that this extreme, unconstitutional abortion ban is an absolute non-starter. It’s going nowhere in the Senate and Republicans know it.
“I’d like to think that over the last 40 years – since the historic decision in Roe v. Wade – we’ve moved on from debating this issue. I’d like to think that after four decades many of those who want to make women’s health care decisions for them have come to grips with the fact that Roe v. Wade is settled law.
“After all, many of the signs of progress are all around us: This year a record 20 women are serving in this body. One year ago yesterday, women’s power and voice at the ballot box was heard loud and clear.
“In fact, last year when Republican candidates for office thought that rape was a political talking point — that idea, and their candidacies, were swiftly rejected thanks in large part to the voices of women.
“And just this week, we saw women in Virginia resoundingly reject the Republican candidate for governor and his misguided and outdated agenda for women’s health.
“So sometimes it’s tempting to think that times indeed have changed.
“That maybe, just maybe, politicians have realized that getting between a women and her doctor is not their job — that it’s possible that right-wing legislators have a newfound respect for women’s health care.
“But the truth is that the drum beat of politically-driven, extreme, and unconstitutional laws continues to get louder.
“And apparently my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to make some noise so their adoring audience of right-wing radio hosts, columnists, and activists are satisfied.
“In fact, in an example of just how blatantly political this restrictive ban is — one of the actual participants in the press conference to introduce this bill today had this to say to Politico about the strategy behind it:
“She said ‘It’s a much better thing to be campaigning on than rape and incest these days.’
“This is an insult to women everywhere.
“And it is most certainly not what the Senator from South Carolina has called ‘a debate worthy of a great democracy.’
“This is a debate we have had.
“A woman’s access to her own doctor is settled law.
“And we are not going to let attacks on Roe v Wade – like this one – change that.
“And, I’d like to remind all those even considering supporting this bill – that real women’s lives, and the most difficult health care decisions they can ever possibly make, are at stake.
“In fact, I’d like for us to just consider the story that Judy Nicastro, from my home state, shared so bravely in the New York Times this summer.
“In an op-ed that she wrote just days after the House passed a bill that was virtually identical to this one – Judy talked about being faced with every pregnant woman’s worst nightmare.
“In describing the news that one of the twins that she was carrying was facing a condition where only one lung chamber had formed – and that it was only 20 percent complete – Judy captured the anguish countless other women in similar positions have faced. ‘My world stopped’ – she wrote. ‘I loved being pregnant with twins and trying to figure out which one was where in my uterus. Sometimes it felt like a party in there, with eight limbs moving. The thought of losing one child was unbearable.’
“She went on to say – ‘The M.R.I., at Seattle Children’s Hospital, confirmed our fears: the organs were pushed up into our boy’s chest and not developing properly. We were in the 22nd week.’
“Under this bill the decision Judy ultimately made through painful conversations with her family and consultation with her doctors would be illegal.
“The decision to make, sure as she put it ‘our son was not born only to suffer’ would be taken from her and given to politicians.
“I’m here today to provide a simple reality check.
“We’re not going back. We’re not going back on settled law. We’re not going to take away a woman’s ability to make her own decisions, about her own health care and her own body.
“Women are not going back to a time when laws forced them into back alleys and made them subject to primitive and unsanitary care.
“And Senators like me, and those like Senators Boxer and Blumenthal — who join me in opposing this effort – aren’t going anywhere.
“Advocates and doctors who treat women every day and know that their health must be protected — aren’t going anywhere.
“Women who continue to believe that their health care decisions are theirs alone — aren’t going anywhere.
“The constitution isn’t going anywhere.
“And therefore this bill isn’t going anywhere.
“This bill, like attacks on Roe v. Wade before it will eventually be lost to history.
“But millions of American women won’t soon forget.”