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Ms. BALDWIN. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Connecticut.
Last week marked the 41st anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirmed that women have the right to make their own personal health care decisions and to have access to safe and legal reproductive care.
The anniversary of Roe should commemorate how far our country has progressed in the last 40 years in safeguarding women's reproductive freedoms and access to quality health care. But today I rise to recognize that history has been made in another way; that is, turning back the clock.
Americans across the country expect to have access to high-quality, dependable health care when they and their families need it. Unfortunately, for women across this country, this access has come under attack.
As my colleagues and I have worked to reform our health care system, to expand access to quality, affordable health care, too many States have enacted record numbers of laws that restrict a woman's access to comprehensive reproductive health services and the freedom to make her own health care decisions. In the past 3 years, States across the country have enacted a total of 205 provisions that restrict women's access to safe abortion services. In 2013 alone, States enacted 70 of these measures.
In my home State of Wisconsin, we are now ranked as one of the worst States when it comes to a woman's reproductive rights, thanks to our Republican Governor and legislature. Wisconsin women, families, and their doctors are facing a slew of new and radical restrictions to health services mandated by one-party--Republican--rule in my State.
Most recently, our Governor has enacted four new restrictions on women's access to safe and legal abortion care in our State. For one, he signed a law that not only forces women to undergo unnecessary medical procedures but also imposes unreasonable requirements on doctors who deliver care to women.
I recently heard from a mother in Middleton, WI. She found out her baby had severe fetal anomalies and would not survive delivery. She had to undergo an emergency termination, and a clinic in Milwaukee was the only place that would do the procedure. But because the Governor was set to sign this law imposing unreasonable requirements on providers, the clinic was preparing to close its doors and wouldn't schedule her for an appointment. She and her husband were forced to find childcare for their two sons and leave the State and travel to Minnesota just to get the medical care she needed. If not for a Federal court order blocking the law shortly after the Governor signed it, the admitting privileges provision would have reduced women's access to safe and legal abortions in Wisconsin by 66 percent, closing several health care clinics and leaving women out in the cold. But unfortunately for this woman in Middleton, the court order did not come fast enough and the Governor's law disrupted her family during a deeply personal and trying time.
The threat in Wisconsin and in States across the country is clear. Politicians are doing this because they think they know better than women and their doctors. The fact is they don't. It is not the job of politicians to play doctor and to dictate how these professionals practice medicine, nor is it their job to intrude in the private lives and important health decisions of American families.
That is why I am proud to stand with my colleagues, including my good friend from Connecticut and my good friend from Washington State, and challenge these attacks on women's freedoms. I am proud to have introduced the Women's Health Protection Act because every American woman deserves the freedom to exercise her constitutional rights by making personal health decisions for herself and for her family with a trusted doctor and without political interference.
Our bill makes it clear that States can no longer enact laws that unduly limit access to reproductive health care and that do nothing to further women's health or safety. The Women's Health Protection Act creates Federal protections against State restrictions that fail to ensure women's health and intrude upon personal decisionmaking. It promotes and protects a woman's individual constitutional rights and guarantees that she can make her own responsible health care decisions no matter where she lives.
Elected officials should not put politics before women's health and women's safety. Women are more than capable of making their own personal medical decisions without consulting their legislator. Every woman in America deserves the freedom to plan her own family, to make her own health care decisions, and to have access to essential and quality women's health care services. We need to act now to guarantee that women will continue to have that freedom.
Today I stand with 33 of my Senate colleagues and 99 Members of the House of Representatives to move our country forward with the Women's Health Protection Act and to safeguard women's constitutional rights under Roe. We need to act now to protect a woman's access to care and her constitutional rights, no matter where she lives, by enacting the Women's Health Protection Act.
Again, I thank my colleagues, in particular my good friend from Connecticut, in leading us in this discussion on the Senate floor but also with the introduction of the bill.
I yield the floor.
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