March 08, 2023

Wyden Delivers Floor Speech Urging the Senate to Pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, Protect Abortion Access Nationwide

Click here to watch a video of today’s remarks. 

Last week, Wyden delivered a floor speech on the human cost if women lose access to mifepristone.

As Prepared for Delivery

I’d like to thank my colleagues – Senators Murray, Blumenthal, Baldwin and Schumer – for introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act. This legislation needs to be the centerpiece of the battle to defend privacy rights in 2023. 

Colleagues, this is the third week I’ve stood on the Senate floor to talk about the absolute assault on privacy and bodily autonomy going on in this country today.

I am talking, of course, about the egregious Dobbs ruling by the Republicans on the Supreme Court. When they said overturning Roe was about returning abortion law to the states, they were not telling the truth. It’s an all-out, full-court press by Republicans at the local level, the state level, and yes, the national level to claw back the rights of women and deny access to reproductive care.

Months after the Dobbs decision came down, a bill to enact a six week abortion ban –  to ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant – was introduced in this body. A nationwide ban. 

Anti-abortion activists are not only working Senate Republicans, but also the court system as well – “court washing” as I call it. 

It goes way beyond the so-called “judge shopping” people have seen in the past. It’s not simply a matter of looking at a judge’s long record of soundly reasoned opinions and hoping for a certain outcome. 

Republicans handpicked this specific Trump judge in Texas because he was a lifelong right-wing activist who was planted in a district courtroom to deliver the decision they want. The verdict they’ve been scheming to deliver. This judge is poised to issue a ruling banning mifepristone nationwide. A nationwide ban.

This is about control. This is about control over women, their bodies, and their lives. This is about the government inserting itself into exam rooms, and into private decisions about whether and when to start a family.

I care so deeply about this issue for several reasons. Chief among them is that I believe in my core that Americans’ right to privacy is paramount. It’s what makes America, America.

Yet, as women grapple with restrictive state laws that take away their right to privacy and threaten their health, they are also facing a crisis of digital privacy and the threat of “uterus surveillance.”

I’ve been sounding the alarm for years that location data leached from phone apps is ripe for abuse. In states where extremists have restricted or banned abortion, that goes straight to a five alarm crisis. 

Shady data brokers have already tracked women to and from Planned Parenthood health centers, and sold their information to anyone with a credit card.

In states where abortion is illegal, anything women say or read online could be used against them. Researching birth control online, updating a period-tracking app, even simply carrying a phone into the doctor's office. You name it. It’ll become evidence for the prosecution.  

The most personal and private data about women’s bodies and health care. Governments are weaponizing that data and using it against them. That’s uterus surveillance. 

Just imagine how much worse it could get if more states pass draconian laws, or the Republicans get their nationwide ban.

This is why the Senate must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Our bill will ensure that every woman in every state is free to make private medical decisions. 

It will ensure that health care providers can do their jobs, without fear of retribution or jail time. No more delaying care for women. No more bullying pharmacies out of providing medications that are completely legal and FDA approved. These providers should be able to do their jobs based on science and medicine and provide abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions.

Women ought to have the right to travel out of state for an abortion, which is what many women have been forced to do as Republican-led states pass laws that restrict their rights and put more women in danger. Our bill protects that freedom of movement. 

These policies are common sense, and they are popular. The majority of Americans agree. 

There are two main points I want to make as I wrap up. 

One, when abortion rights get cut off, more women die. 

People need to understand that women’s lives are at stake. 

And two, what’s also at stake is a century of progress toward equality for American women. Republicans are attempting to take the country back to a time when women were firmly second-class citizens. 

The question is whether freedom will mean the same thing for women as it does for men. 

If women do not have the same privacy rights, they do not have true freedom. If women are subjected to uterus surveillance, they do not have true freedom. If Republican politicians dictate what goes on in the exam room between women and their doctors, then women do not have true freedom. 

If women cannot control their own bodies and make their own decisions about when and whether to be pregnant, they do not have true freedom. And if women are forced to give birth –  and in some cases Republicans want to force women to give birth even after cases of rape and incest –  then women do not have true freedom. 

That’s what this debate is about. That’s why the Senate must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. And I’m going to stand with my colleagues and stay in this fight until it becomes law. 


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