Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2015
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Abortion


Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to my Republican colleagues who are once again bringing forward a political attack on the freedom of American women to make their own personal health care decisions. Instead of focusing on improving access to health care for women, Republicans are pursuing a divisive policy that jeopardizes women's health and puts politicians and the government between a woman and her doctor.

Instead of spending our time on bipartisan budget negotiations, Republicans are wasting what is precious time on another failed attempt to strip funding for critical women's health programs, denying women the health services they need.

They have scheduled yet another show vote. They know it is destined to fail, and many believe it is just to pander to extreme allies by taking away women's constitutionally protected health care choices. I have to say I object to this dangerous political game. Women's access to quality health care isn't a political game. It is not one for me and many of my other colleagues who join me on the floor today, nor is it a game for women and their families across the country and in my home State of Wisconsin.

Too many States have enacted what are record numbers of laws--over 230 of them in the past 4 years--that restrict a women's access to reproductive health services and the freedom and right to make her own health care decisions.

The bill before us today would impose a 20-week abortion ban nationwide and would have real and grave consequences for American families.

Last year I heard from a woman from Middleton, WI, who at 20 weeks was devastated to find out that her baby had a severe fetal anomaly and that there would be no chance of surviving delivery. She had to undergo an emergency termination, and a clinic in Milwaukee was the only place in Wisconsin that would do the procedure, but because at the time our Republican Governor was set to sign into law a new measure imposing unreasonable requirements on providers, this particular clinic was preparing to close its doors and would not schedule her procedure. She and her husband were forced to find childcare for their two sons and travel to another State to get the medical care she needed.

Since hearing this mother's story, Wisconsin's Republican lawmakers have attempted to enact even more restrictions, including a bill recently passed in the Wisconsin State Senate to ban abortions after 20 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. In addition, this bill's medical emergency exception is similar to what is included in Senator Graham's Federal proposal. It says nothing about the health of the mother.

The threat in Wisconsin and States across the country is clear. When Congressmen and politicians play doctor, American families suffer. This is why my good friend and colleague from Connecticut Senator Blumenthal and I have introduced a serious proposal, the Women's Health Protection Act. This proposal would put a stop to these sorts of legislative attacks on women's rights and freedoms. Our bill creates Federal protections against restrictions such as the proposal before us that unduly limit access to reproductive health care and do nothing to further women's health or safety and certainly intrude upon personal decisionmaking. It is time that we place our trust back in women to carefully consider their options and make their own health decisions, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation.

We know that this week's Republican spectacle is not meant to produce a serious debate about protecting women's reproductive health; it is about the narrow Republican agenda to take our country backward and roll back the important health benefits for American families. We have seen this with the numerous failed attempts by Republicans to repeal the protections in the Affordable Care Act, protections that have empowered millions of women with more choices and stronger health care coverage. Today women can finally rest assured that they will not be charged more for coverage just because they are women, and someone's mother can get a lifesaving mammogram without the fear of high medical bills.

Over 75 times, congressional Republicans have tried to roll back this measure, which provides health security and economic security for millions of American families. It seems that Republicans would gladly go back to the days where being a woman was a preexisting condition and when insurance companies could drop your coverage just because you got sick or older or had a baby.

We are not going to go back to those days, just as we are not going to create a future where politicians in Washington take away from freedom and the right of women to make their own personal health decisions. I am committing to putting a stop to the relentless and ideological attacks on American families and will continue to fight to ensure that both men and women have the freedom to access the health care they need.

The American people do not want Congress playing doctor, and they are sick and tired of Republicans manufacturing crisis after crisis. Just 2 years after they shut down the government because of a partisan battle with the President over the Affordable Care Act, they are again threatening to shut down the government over another partisan attack on funding for women's health care. These political games could come at a serious cost to America's economic strength and the well-being of working families.

It is time for Republicans to stop playing dangerous games with women's health. It is time for Republicans to stop manufacturing crisis after crisis. It is time for Republicans to join Democrats and work in a bipartisan manner to keep the government open and negotiate a budget agreement that ends sequestration and invests in economic growth, invests in our middle class, invests in our national security, and invests in women's health.