(House of Representatives - May 22, 2019)

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[Pages H4115-H4116]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Porter) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Ms. PORTER. Madam Speaker, I rise today to discuss women's access to 
essential healthcare services.
  I am the mother of three beautiful children. When I gave birth to my 
first child, to my second child, and to my third child, I was given the 
time and opportunity to plan for these pregnancies and welcome these 
children. I was privileged enough to have the ability to make an 
informed decision to become a mother at a time in my life when I was 
ready to care for children.
  Prior to having children, I had access to birth control. I received 
healthcare that helped me have three healthy pregnancies and helped me 
to be able to get pregnant when I was ready. But too many women in this 
country don't have these choices.
  Across the world, maternal mortality rates are decreasing. Pregnancy 
and birth are less dangerous across the globe, but not in the United 
States. While our country is a leader in so many ways, we are failing 
our Nation's women by not delivering the care they need during and 
after they give birth.
  Too many women don't have access to prenatal and postnatal care. Too 
many women already don't have access to birth control or abortion 
services, and if we do not fight back, this crisis is only going to get 
worse. If we do not fight back, women are going to die.
  The bills currently passing at the State level will not stop 
abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not stop abortion. These acts 
will only stop safe abortion.
  Research has found that every year approximately 25.1 million women 
receive an unsafe abortion, and 68,000 women die annually of bleeding 
and infection, almost entirely in countries where abortion is illegal 
or inaccessible.
  If we continue down this road, women will die. The laws being passed 
in Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia are not pro-life. They are not 
protecting the lives of women and families that we were elected to 
  Alabama has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the 
country, but instead of focusing on ensuring that women have access to 
the healthcare services they need when they choose to have a pregnancy, 
the State is choosing to punish those who do not become mothers.

                              {time}  1815

  Alabama State legislature has said that they just simply don't have 
the funds to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income women, families, 
and other individuals. Yet they have the millions of dollars necessary 
to fight a legal battle to overturn Roe v. Wade. These laws are anti-
choice, anti-women, and anti-life.
  In the Alabama bill, the penalty for aborting a pregnancy caused by 
rape is higher than the penalty for raping a woman. Let me say it 
again: in the Alabama law, the penalty for aborting a pregnancy caused 
by rape is higher than the penalty for committing the rape.
  This is not the country we want to be.
  How is that upholding our values?
  Let's also note that women who have a miscarriage--a tragic event--
could be criminally investigated to determine if the miscarriage was 
related to an attempted abortion or was otherwise somehow the fault of 
the woman.
  According to March of Dimes, 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies end in 
miscarriage. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, before 
the 12th week of pregnancy, but nearly 5 percent of pregnancies that 
ended with miscarriages happened in the second trimester.
  As a mother I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child in the first, 
second, or even third trimester. For those who choose to get pregnant, 
this loss is devastating. Imagine you and your partner try for years to 
get pregnant. You can't afford expensive treatments like IVF because 
they are not covered under your insurance. You desperately want to be a 
mother, but nothing seems to be working. Finally, after 3 years, you 
take a home pregnancy test, and you find out you are pregnant. A short 
trip to the doctor confirms this incredible and exciting news. You and 
your partner are overjoyed. But 5 months later you start bleeding and 
rush to the emergency room. More than halfway through your pregnancy, 
you have miscarried and will now have to deliver a stillborn child. You 
and your partner are heartbroken.
  Imagine that a few days after this tragic loss you find out that you 
and your doctor are both being investigated for attempting to abort the 
child whose death you are still mourning.
  This is cruel and inhumane. These bills are not intended to stop 
abortion, and they will not stop abortion. They are not intended to 
save lives, and, in fact, these bills will take lives.
  This is the proof. If we really want to reduce the number of 
abortions in this country, we must ensure safe access to women's 
healthcare, including birth control and comprehensive family planning 
  I want women in Alabama, in Georgia, in Missouri, and in every State 
across the country that has passed or is attempting to pass legislation 
to challenge Roe v. Wade to know that I stand with them.
  I want women in Orange County to know that they elected someone who 
will fight for their access to essential healthcare services.
  I want women in California and across the country to trust that my 
colleagues and I will fight for women

[[Page H4116]]

to have the healthcare and the respect that they need and deserve 
regardless of their income, race, or location.
  Protecting women's access to healthcare is one of my top priorities, 
and I will fight to ensure that every woman has the access they need to 
live a healthy life on their own terms.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. Omar).
  Ms. OMAR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to defy the horrifying attacks 
happening against women's reproductive rights all across this country.
  Religious fundamentalists are currently trying to manipulate the 
State laws in order to impose their beliefs on an entire society, all 
with complete disregard for voices and the rights of American women.
  The recent efforts like those in Alabama and Georgia are only the 
latest in a long history of efforts to criminalize women for simply 
existing and to punish us when we don't conform to their attempts to 
control us. And a new proposal in Texas would go as far as to threaten 
women who obtain an abortion with capital punishment.
  If that were being proposed by any other country, we would be calling 
it a dangerous violation of human rights. But because it is happening 
here with the support of the ultraconservative religious right, we call 
it religious freedom. It is simply unthinkable.
  But this anti-choice movement isn't only unjust, it is dangerous 
because history has proven that when abortion is criminalized, the 
number of abortions do not simply go down. The number of deaths and 
injuries to women increase.
  Let's just be honest. For the religious right, this isn't simply 
about their care or concern for life. If they cared about or were 
concerned about children, then they would be concerned about the 
children who are being detained and those who are dying in camps across 
our borders or the children who are languishing in hunger and facing 
  This isn't about religious morality or conviction, because we have 
seen time and time again those who talk about their faith and want to 
push policies because of their faith are the ones who simply are caught 
with the hypocrisy of not living it out in their personal lives.
  I just remember recently, not too long ago, a Republican Congressman 
who had to retire, Tim Murphy, because he asked his mistress to abort 
their baby while pushing for a ban on abortion. Or I remember the anti-
LGBT rights Republican, Larry Craig, who was found soliciting sex in a 
bathroom in a Minneapolis airport.
  I am frustrated every single time I hear people speaking about their 
faith and pushing that on to other people, because we know those so-
called religious politicians, when it comes to their life and their 
choices, they want to talk about freedom, but when it comes to other 
people's lives and other people's choices, then they want to talk about 
  I feel that we must point out how ironic it is that women now are 
facing these challenges to their freedom in the week that we are 
marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

  How can it be that an entire century has passed, and we are still 
forced to fight for our rights as women, as human beings, and as 
  This should outrage every single person. It certainly outrages me, 
and we can no longer stand for it.
  So today I ask every woman in this country no matter her age, her 
race, or her political affiliation to stand with me--to stand with us--
to stand up and tell those who challenge our voice, our place, and our 
right to decide for ourselves to not be silent, to speak up and to 
reclaim their right to choose.
  Ms. PORTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Omar for her remarks, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.