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Public Statements

Affordable Health Care For America Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill, which will provide affordable health coverage to 36 million people who lack it today. This has been an aspiration for our Nation and our people for decades.

I first ran for office motivated by my belief that every American should have access to quality health care, and I will not stop fighting until every American is covered. There are far too many daily reminders of the failures and injustices of our current system, the countless stories of bankruptcy, care delayed and premature death. And yet we have let years go by while people suffer.

Today, we convene to debate and advance legislation that delivers meaningful insurance reform, outlawing outrageous insurance abuses, lowering costs, and extending coverage to all. I will cast my vote today on behalf of the people in Wisconsin and millions throughout America who have said enough is enough.

Today, we declare with conviction: every American deserves health care, and every American shall have it.


Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment.

* [Begin Insert]

A journalist asked me a few years ago if I could point to one thing that has contributed the most to the empowerment of women in our society. In answer to that query, I might have pointed to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or laws mandating equal pay for equal work. But instead, I responded to that journalist that it is the array of legal choices a woman now has that make it possible for her to plan her family--to decide whether to have children, and to decide when to have children. We refer to this array of choices as ``reproductive freedom.''

In the days before women were able to legally access contraception and abortion services, women often had to drop out of school, few could pursue careers in the professions, and too many women in desperate circumstances lost their lives from so-called back-alley abortions.

In 1970 women made up a third of the workforce. Today for the first time in history, women make up half of the U.S. workforce. In 1970, ten women served in the House of Representatives. Today there are 76. In 1970, the percentage of female medical students was 9.6 percent. This year, women are 48 percent of our Nation's medical students. In 1970, the percentage of women in law school was 8 percent. Today, 46.7 percent of law students are female.

These are just some of the changes in the role of women in American society that have occurred over the years during which women have secured the right to a full range of family planning options.

The Stupak/Pitts amendment is an erosion of a woman's reproductive freedom. Access to abortion services in the United States is already severely limited. State laws mandating waiting periods, the lack of insurance coverage of abortion and the scarcity of clinics providing abortion services mean that the right to a safe and legal abortion for many women is already pretty hollow. If this amendment is adopted, a woman's right to choose will be further limited.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

* [End Insert]


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