May 11, 2022

Wyden Delivers Floor Speech After Republicans Block the Women’s Health Protection Act

As prepared for delivery

Mr. President, earlier today the Senate took one the most significant votes I have been a part of in all my time in public service.

While the Women’s Health Protection Act did not pass today, this vote made it very clear on which side every senator stands. The Republicans unanimously voted for criminalized abortion in more than half the states in just a few weeks. 

Democrats voted to stop the Alito Court from turning the clock back on women’s health by a century. 

Let’s be one-hundred percent crystal clear about the consequences of this ruling when it becomes final.

It will immediately criminalize abortion in many states.

It will allow the Republicans to pass a law criminalizing abortion in all 50 states. 

It will throw out the constitutional right to privacy — a right upon which marriage, choice, and many other civil rights depend. 

And it will put governments in control of women’s bodies. 

This is truly a terrifying outcome for millions and millions of people all across the country. 

It is no secret that people have been considering what would happen if and when this far-right Supreme Court would throw out Roe. Less than a month ago, I was on this floor talking about the end of Roe and the danger to Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that affirmed the right of married people to use contraception. 

However, it is still a shock — a gut punch — to see how eager Republican lawmakers are to strip women of their constitutional freedoms and endanger their lives. They are going a lot further than simply overturning Roe

All the talk about states’ rights has gone out the window — the goal is a federal abortion ban — federal criminalization. 

Already Republicans including governors and statehouse leaders are talking about banning birth control. I will say that again — they are talking about banning birth control!

Already, there are plans to restrict people’s freedom of movement, criminalizing women who travel to other states for an abortion, and even the person who gives them a ride. 

Let’s not sugarcoat what that means. They are talking about enacting laws that reach beyond state borders, harkening back to the darkest parts of our history. 

This far-right Alito Court has already given far-right lawmakers a green light to do whatever they want when it comes to abortion. There is no reason to trust this court will draw the line at restricting women’s freedom of movement. 

Another closely related issue that frightens me deals with data. With abortion criminalized, women’s personal data is going to be weaponized against them by bounty hunters and the government. 

I have been sounding the alarm for years about the abuse of location data taken from people’s cell phones. In a world where Sam Alito is in charge of abortion laws, that becomes a massive, massive crisis.

Shady data brokers are already tracking women who go to Planned Parenthood clinics, and they will sell that data to anybody with a credit card.  Imagine for a moment what not just prosecutors, but these deranged rightwing vigilantes, will do with this data. 

The apps women use, the websites they visit, the places they go. All of that can and will be used against them by prosecutors. 

In short, this is “uterus surveillance.” That’s what’s coming down the pike unless Congress acts and gets serious about consumer privacy and prohibiting the government from making end-runs around the fourth amendment. 

It is a shock to me how little concern there seems to be for these major issues. It is a full-out sprint toward massive government overreach and severe restrictions on women’s freedom and privacy. 

There’s zero thought given to victims of rape. 

There’s zero thought given to victims of incest.

There’s zero thought to women being exploited after being forced to seek backroom abortions.

There’s zero thought given to how many more women will die as a result of this ruling…

Complications during pregnancy could become a death sentence.  In states like Texas where law enforcement have already shown the willingness to arrest a women for having a miscarriage, a woman’s tragedy of losing a baby will be compounded by the very real threat of criminal prosecution.  

Through all of this, abortions will still happen, they will just happen in conditions that are less safe than they are today. 

I know there are members on the other side who say they care about these issues. They have been saying that for years, and yet we have arrived at this moment. 

Not a single Republican senator voted to protect the law as it stands today.  

The vast, vast majority of people in Oregon and all across the country oppose what the Alito Court is inflicting on them by tossing out Roe

This is extreme judicial radicalism — proof that these justices were blowing smoke when they told senators they would respect precedent if they were confirmed. 

The bottom line is this: if you don’t have control over your own body, you are not free. The Alito Court is denying women control over their own bodies. This is an attack on their freedom, and a denial of Americans’ right to privacy. 

Criminalizing abortion is wrong, plain and simple. How can we let this stand? 

Today is not the end of this fight.  The Senate has taken its vote.  Now every American must cast their vote and make clear whether they want to be part of this new Republican reality.  

A video of Wyden’s remarks is here.


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