Senator Boxer Speaks Out Against Extreme Attack on Women’s Health

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) spoke on the U.S. Senate floor today about the extreme and dangerous bill passed by the Republican-led House yesterday that would threaten women’s health, criminalize doctors and restrict a woman’s constitutionally protected right to choose.

In back-to-back floor speeches, Senator Boxer and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) pointed out that Republican attempts to put politics between a woman and her doctor have continued unabated, even after women and men all across America overwhelmingly rejected their extreme approach last year.

You can view video of Senator Boxer’s floor speech here.

The following are her remarks from the floor:

Mr. President, a couple of us are going to come down here to the floor and talk about an action that was taken in the House yesterday. With all the issues that we have to confront, whether it is continuing this economic recovery and job creation, dealing with immigration like we are trying to do here in the Senate, dealing with going to conference on the budget, which Chairman Murray has been pushing for day after day after day, you would think the House would take up one of those matters, but instead what do they do? They take up an extreme anti-choice bill.

Clearly, House Republicans have learned no lessons from last year – when voters resoundingly rejected their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, restrict women’s access to birth control and slash preventative care for women and families.

So the debate that they had in the House yesterday echoes of last year when Republicans talked about “legitimate rape” or a pregnancy from rape as a “gift from God.” In fact, the Republican sponsor of this bill said the incidence of pregnancy from rape was “very low” – an assertion that’s flatly contradicted by the facts.

In November, voters sent the message that they want us to focus on real concerns – jobs, education, immigration reform.

But, now they are back. They’re back in full force with an even more extreme anti-woman, anti-choice agenda.

They should know this: The women of America are watching – and so are the men who support them.

This House Republican bill that was passed by them yesterday is a frontal assault on women’s health.

It puts women in danger of becoming infertile, in danger of suffering serious complications arising from cancer, blood clots, kidney disease or diabetes just to name a few of these conditions.

It is an attack on 40 years of settled law.

And it criminalizes doctors.

Furthermore, there is no real rape or incest exception. It just bans abortion by a date certain with no real rape or incest exception.

Let me explain this.

The Republican sponsors of the bill claim there is an exception for rape and incest. Matter of fact, it wasn’t in there and they quickly added it. But, seriously, they don’t fix the problem. Because what they do is say, “Yes, a woman can end a pregnancy if she is raped but she has to report that rape.” And it is true that many women choose not to report a rape for their own private and personal reasons.

So when you tell a woman who has been raped and who is too scared to report it that she has to carry the rapist’s child to term – that’s not a rape exception. That’s an outrage.

And when you tell a victim of incest who is too scared to report it that she has to carry that child to term – that’s not an incest exception. It’s re-victimizing someone who has suffered a horrific crime.

65 percent of rape victims do not report these crimes. There is no protection at all for these women in this bill.

There is also no health exception.

The House Republican bill has no health exception at all – it’s a reckless disregard for the health of women. So, for example, if a woman will face serious complications, even life-threatening complications if they continue a pregnancy, where they could suffer kidney failure, a worsening of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, there is no help for those women.

So I would say, listen to the women who have suffered these problems.

Judy Shackelford of Wisconsin. Four months into her pregnancy, she developed a pregnancy-induced blood clot in her arm. The only guarantee that she wouldn’t die and leave behind her five-year-old son was for Judy to end the pregnancy. She and her husband made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.

And those Congressmen playing doctor over there are telling her what she should do for her family. They are not doctors!

Listen to Christie Brooks of Virginia. Christie was pregnant with her second child. After a 20 week ultrasound, she found out her daughter would be born with a severe structural birth defect and would suffocate at birth. She made the difficult decision of ending that pregnancy at 22 weeks.

Then there is Vikki Stella. Vikki I have met. She discovered months into her pregnancy that the fetus she was carrying suffered from major anomalies and had no chance of survival—zero. Because of Vikki’s diabetes, the doctor determined that induced labor and Caesarian section were both riskier procedures for Vikki than an abortion.

That procedure not only protected Vikki from immediate medical risks, but also ensured that she would be able to have children in the future.

And those Congressmen over there want to get into her life and tell her what to do and tell her family what to do.

This bill is so extreme it would throw doctors in jail for five years for providing women with the care they need.

And they talk about this brutal doctor that is now serving two consecutive life terms over there for what he did. Well, that is the way the system should work. If you break the law, as that doctor did, you go to jail. But don’t change the law so that if a good doctor is trying to help a good patient he or she risks going to prison.

This bill is so extreme that a broad array of groups oppose this bill.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – they represent thousands of OB/GYNs nationwide –said that this bill is “dangerous to patients’ safety and health.”

A coalition of 15 religious groups opposes the bill. Here is what they said:

“We believe—and Americans, including people of faith, overwhelmingly agree—that the decision to end a pregnancy is best left to a woman in consultation with her family, her doctor, and her faith. Our laws should support and safeguard a woman’s health – not deny access to care.”

So in closing, and before we hear from my colleague, let me tell you this. Speaker Boehner said last week that creating jobs is “really our number one priority.” And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said, “House Republicans are focused on creating jobs and restoring faith in government.”

No they are not! They are continuing the War on Women. If this is what their agenda is, then why are they doing that? Why are they attacking 40 years of settled law?

President Obama has threatened to veto this bill – saying it shows “contempt for women’s health and rights.” And here in the Senate, my friend and I who are here, and many others are going to block this dangerous and extreme bill. And with that I yield the floor.

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