U.S. Sen Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has sharp words for Republican lawmakers who have passed bills that prohibit abortions.
In a speech on the U.S. Senate floor today, Wyden chastised legislators for waging "a coordinated attack on women's rights that is cruel and dangerous."
He was referencing Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who on May 15 signed into a law a bill that makes performing abortion a felony, even in cases of rape and incest. It is the first outright ban on the procedure, but other states—Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio—have passed heartbeat bills this year that restrict abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy.
Wyden today emphasized that the "extreme bills" will not eradicate abortion, but will only make it more dangerous. "Women are going to die. That is a fact," Wyden said. "Women are going to die because of these restrictions."
He added that abortions are included in women's right to health care, and should not be subject to government regulation.
"What we're talking about now is jailing doctors for life; we're talking about treating women like hardened criminals after they get a medical procedure," Wyden said. "Women in some places are facing the prospect that they may need to report miscarriages to the government or they could wind up in prison."
He concluded: "The government should not have control of women's bodies. End of story."
Watch the senator's full speech, or read a transcription of his remarks, below.
Right now, in state capitals across the land, Republican lawmakers are passing extreme bills that throw in the trash can 45 years of settled law on reproductive health.
This is an open, coordinated attack on Roe vs. Wade and a woman's right to choose the healthcare she needs.
These Republican lawmakers are passing bills that are not only harmful, but they are overwhelmingly opposed by the public—bills with harsh criminal penalties for women and doctors; bills with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest; bills explicitly compare women getting medical care to the holocaust.
Let me just repeat that: Bills that explicitly compare women getting medical care to the holocaust.
I want to be clear what this is all about. The party of Donald Trump is insisting on government control of women's bodies. That is what is on the table in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and elsewhere. Government control, government control, of women's bodies!
Millions and millions of women across the land are watching in anger and in fear as all of this is playing out. I've heard from many of them back home in Oregon. I heard it last weekend. I've got four town meetings in the rural part of Oregon coming up and I'm going to hear it again. Women are afraid for the future—their future, their family's future—because they know what is at stake with this coordinated attack on their rights.
First, it puts women's lives in danger. The reality is abortions will still happen in states that pass these laws, but those abortions will happen later and they will be unsafe. Women are going to die. That is a fact. Women are going to die because of these restrictions.
If you need proof, just look at the figures before and after the Roe case. In the decades before Roe, thousands and thousands of women died due to unsafe abortions, and those are only the ones people knew about. They didn't even take into consideration the unnamed, the unknown victims of those misguided policies. After Roe was decided in 1973, women's healthcare got safer. Now, once again, there is an effort to undermine the safety of women.
Second, the key ways the future these restrictive laws are creating is worse for women and healthcare professionals than before Roe. What we're talking about now is jailing doctors for life; we're talking about treating women like hardened criminals after they get a medical procedure. Women in some places are facing the prospect that they may need to report miscarriages to the government or they could wind up in prison.
Now, the other side of this debate paints a picture of women exercising their right to choose that is unfair and unrealistic. These are incredibly difficult choices. Many women exercising their right to choose have just been hit with the most devastating medical news that prospective parents can face.
It's not up to state lawmakers and government bureaucrats to step in and interfere with this intensely personal and private choice. But that's exactly what's on offer with the laws being passed in state houses across the land. These laws bind and punish women with a level of government control that did not exist before Roe. This is right out of nightmareish fiction.
It's a coordinated attack on women's rights that is cruel and dangerous. Abortion and other reproductive decisions are health care, and health care choices ought to be made by women with the help of doctors they trust. Not by the federal government, not by state lawmakers. Women and doctors. That's it. Full stop.
The government should not have control of women's bodies. End of story.