As Prepared for Delivery
Mr. President, this week the Senate is having yet another debate on legislation restricting women’s health care. Let me give you the basic idea of what this debate is going to be all about.
The old Republican slogan was “a chicken in every pot.” Now it’s “a Republican in every exam room.”
The Senate has done remarkably little legislating under the recent control of the other party. But there always seems to be plenty of time on the calendar for another Republican attack on women’s health care. It has come up again and again and again. Every single time it’s the same basic proposition on offer: Republican politicians squeezing themselves in between women and their doctors.
My view is, the government ought to make sure that women can get health care from the doctors they trust, and then politicians ought to stay out of it.
Roe v. Wade says that’s supposed to be the law of the land when it comes to access to abortion. More than four decades of settled law says that these are choices made between women and their doctors – and the ideological agendas of politicians have nothing to do with it.
The legislation up for debate this week, based on a right-wing agenda, says the opposite.
Among other problems, one of the proposals on offer this week would criminalize the practice of intensely personal health care. It would essentially tell doctors: “Throw out your training, discard your medical judgement, forget what’s in the patient’s best interests. Right-wing politicians will dictate what goes on in your exam room.”
Doctors who provide necessary medical treatment – care that can be life-saving – could be thrown in jail if they run afoul of these new ideological government standards.
This isn’t just a debate here in the Senate – there have been hundreds of bills brought forward in states across the country restricting women’s health care, including safe and legal abortion services.
Among the people hit hardest by these proposals are the millions of women in this country who are walking an economic tightrope. If they cannot see the doctor they trust – if their local Planned Parenthood clinic is forced to shutter its doors because of harsh new rules – they may not have anywhere else to turn for health care. It’s yet another way the Republican agenda goes back to the days when health care was only for the healthy and the wealthy.
Bottom line, this debate is fundamentally about whether the government gets to control women’s bodies. It is a dangerous, unconstitutional proposition that throws out decades of settled law. But this Republican Senate majority has proven that it’ll always find the time to go after women’s health care with ideological bills, regardless of what other health care challenges people are facing in America.
I guarantee that across the country at this very moment, there are people lined up at pharmacy counters with every last penny they’ve got, knowing they’re about to get mugged when they fill their prescriptions. Millions of Americans are struggling to pay for their medications, but the Majority Leader has blocked our best efforts to help them. Instead, the Senate is debating ideological attacks on women’s health care that have no chance of becoming law.
The likelihood is, these attacks are going to keep coming. It’ll only get more serious in the months ahead. Four more years of Donald Trump would mean the end of Roe v. Wade. It would guarantee more health care discrimination against women. And it would mean a lot more government control over women’s bodies.
I urge my colleagues to reject these proposals when they come up.
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