News Releases

Murray: “A right means nothing without the ability to exercise that right.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor in anticipation of next week’s oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court. The case is a challenge to a harmful Texas anti-abortion law that undercuts women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care and represents the most significant threat to the historic ruling in Roe v. Wade in nearly a decade. Murray reiterated her strong objections to Texas’s anti-abortion law and laws like it across the country, which are driven by extreme conservative efforts to deny a woman’s constitutional right to make her own choices about her own body.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“…as this case moves forward, I want to take a few minutes to explain how much is at stake, and why it is so critical that Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law be treated as exactly what it is: unconstitutional. M. President, in Texas and across the country, extreme, right-wing conservatives continue to try to turn back the clock on American women. Just yesterday, the Fifth Circuit allowed a Louisiana law to go into effect that would leave women with only one health center where they can exercise their reproductive rights. This debate is frustrating. It’s disappointing. And frankly, it’s appalling that in the 21st century, forty-three years since the historic ruling in Roe v. Wade, we even have to have a discussion about whether a woman has the right to make her own decisions about her own body.”

 

“…laws like Texas’s, which are driven by extreme conservative efforts to undermine women’s access to care, are without question getting in between women and their constitutional rights. Especially the rights of women who can’t afford to take off of work and drive hundreds of miles when they need health care! Put simply, Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law—and laws like it across the country—threaten women’s lives. These laws are intended to take women back to the days before Roe v. Wade—when women had less control over their bodies and their futures.”

 

“As a mother, a grandmother, and a United States Senator, I know that’s absolutely the wrong direction for our country. Our daughters and granddaughters should have more opportunity, and stronger rights—not less. That’s why 163 Democratic and Independent members of the House and Senate urged the Supreme Court in an amicus brief to stand up for women’s constitutionally protected health care rights. And it’s the reason that—even as some of our Republican colleagues are focused on doing everything they can to undermine the Supreme Court.”

 

“I and my Democratic colleagues are focused on how much the Court’s decision in this case will mean for women now and for generations to come. So instead of trying to obstruct justice, we are urging the Supreme Court to ensure justice by upholding settled law.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, M. President.

 

“Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—a case that could not mean more to a woman’s ability to exercise her constitutionally protected health care rights.

 

“And as this case moves forward, I want to take a few minutes to explain how much is at stake, and why it is so critical that Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law be treated as exactly what it is: unconstitutional.

 

“M. President, in Texas and across the country, extreme, right-wing conservatives continue to try to turn back the clock on American women.

 

“Just yesterday, the Fifth Circuit allowed a Louisiana law to go into effect that would leave women with only one health center where they can exercise their reproductive rights.

 

“This debate is frustrating. It’s disappointing.

 

“And frankly, it’s appalling that in the 21st century, forty-three years since the historic ruling in Roe v. Wade, we even have to have a discussion about whether a woman has the right to make her own decisions about her own body.

 

“But one thing that’s always kept me going is seeing that—when their health, their rights, and their opportunity are at stake—women stand up and make it clear why reproductive freedom is so important.

 

“As we’ve fought back against Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law, women have explained that because they were able to plan when they had children—they were able to escape abusive relationships.

 

“They’ve said that because they had control over their own bodies, they were able to break cycles of poverty generations long and give back to their communities.

 

“They’ve shared their experiences making the extraordinarily difficult decision to end a pregnancy out of medical necessity.

 

“These are powerful stories about the difference self-determination makes for women.

 

“And these stories are possible because of constitutional rights affirmed in Roe v. Wade and protected in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

 

“But if Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law stands, three-quarters of clinics in the state are expected to shut down.

 

“As a result, 900,000 women of child-bearing age in Texas will have to drive as far as 300 miles round trip to get the care they need.

 

“And women in states with laws like Texas’s will face similar barriers.

 

“I believe strongly that a right means nothing without the ability to exercise that right.

 

“And laws like Texas’s, or Louisiana’s, which are driven by extreme conservative efforts to undermine women’s access to care, are without question getting in between women and their constitutional rights.

 

“Especially the rights of women who can’t afford to take off of work and drive hundreds of miles when they need health care! 

 

“Put simply, Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law—and laws like it across the country—threaten women’s lives.

 

“These laws are intended to take women back to the days before Roe v. Wade—when women had less control over their bodies and their futures.

 

“As a mother, a grandmother, and a United States Senator, I know that’s absolutely the wrong direction for our country.

 

“Our daughters and granddaughters should have more opportunity, and stronger rights—not less.

 

“That’s why 163 Democratic and Independent members of the House and Senate urged the Supreme Court in an amicus brief to stand up for women’s constitutionally protected health care rights.

 

“And it’s the reason that—even as some of our Republican colleagues are focused on doing everything they can to undermine the Supreme Court.

 

“I and my Democratic colleagues are focused on how much the Court’s decision in this case will mean for women now and for generations to come.

 

“So instead of trying to obstruct justice, we are urging the Supreme Court to ensure justice by upholding settled law.

 

“For women, being able to exercise their constitutionally protected reproductive rights means health, freedom, and opportunity.

 

“And we cannot, and should not, go backwards.

 

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”