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US Sen. Hirono advocates for abortion rights during Senate floor speech

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During a speech on the US Senate floor May 9, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) advocated for abortion rights. Screen shot of the speech

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor emphasizing the need to protect abortion rights in response to the draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

In her remarks yesterday, Sen. Hirono called out the Republican party’s hypocrisy on this issue, highlighted the disproportionate impact overturning Roe would have on low-income people and people of color, and warned the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court will work to dismantle other constitutional rights after it overturns Roe.

“The Supreme Court has never overruled precedent to limit a Constitutional right it has previously extended,” Sen. Hirono said. “And yet today, in 2022, women across the country are going to wake up and no longer have control over their own bodies once the Supreme Court stays its course to overturn both Roe and [Planned Parenthood v. Casey].”

Additionally, Sen. Hirono highlighted Hawaiʻi’s leadership as the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion before Roe and her history of activism on this issue.

“When I was in college, abortion was not legal,” Sen. Hirono said. “Abortion is one of the reasons I became an activist. I’m proud that Hawaiʻi was the first state in the country to decriminalize abortion, before Roe. So regardless of the Supreme Court decision, women’s reproductive freedom in Hawaiʻi will be protected. But for how long?”

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Sen. Hirono is a staunch advocate for abortion rights and reproductive freedom. In March, she introduced a resolution to honor abortion providers and thanked them in a floor speech on National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Sen. Hirono also co-sponsored S.1975, the Senate companion to the House-passed Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R.3755), which would protect the right to access abortion care throughout the United States.

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To watch the remarks, click here.

Below is a text of Sen. Hironoʻs remarks:

Republicans continue to be totally shocked by the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision. But what is truly shocking is the fact that we have a radical right wing majority on our Supreme Court—thanks to three Trump Justices who are poised to take away a Constitutional right that women have had for almost 50 years.

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The Supreme Court has never overturned a Constitutional right it has earlier conferred. And yet today, in 2022, women across the country are going to wake up and no longer have control over their own bodies once the Supreme Court stays its course to overturn both Roe and Casey. The Republican party has sabotaged the Supreme Court—and women and girls across the country are going to pay the price.

In 13 states, the minute Roe is overturned, abortion will be illegal. And dozens of others will move to do the same. These states are prepared to outlaw abortion—with only narrow exceptions, if at all. If a child—a child—is raped, Republicans will force her to give birth. If a woman’s life is in danger, Republicans will force her to give birth despite the fact that the U.S. already has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country.

If a woman cannot afford to raise a child, Republicans will force her to give birth anyway. And then—once that child is born, all of a sudden their concern for that child pretty much goes out the window. They have done little to support women and families. They have repeatedly blocked Democratic efforts to provide health care, child care, paid family leave, and more. There is nothing pro-life about that.

And if a woman chooses to get an abortion—for any reason—whether it be rape or medical necessity. Republicans stand ready to throw in jail women, doctors, and even those who help people access the procedure. And make no mistake, if Republicans take control of the House and Senate, they will press to pass national legislation that would outlaw abortion.

I have been an advocate for reproductive freedom for decades. When I was in college, abortion was not legal. It was the first time I wrote a political letter to my members of Congress asking for their position on abortion. Abortion is one of the reasons I became an activist. And I fought against concerted efforts to limit abortion in Hawaii during the 14 years I served in the Hawaii State Legislature. I knew then as I do now that women should be able to control our own bodies.

And sadly, the threat to women’s freedom is as real today as it was when I was first advocating for this right decades ago.  I’m proud that Hawaii was the first state in the country to decriminalize abortion, before Roe. So regardless of the Supreme Court decision, women’s reproductive freedom in Hawaii will be protected. But for how long? So many women across the country do not live in states like Hawaii that protect their right to an abortion.

Barriers to abortion access have always existed. Barriers like finding child care, taking time off from work, and travel and transportation and more.

The number of women dealing with these obstacles to get the essential health care they need will skyrocket if Roe is overturned. And we know who is going to be harmed the most people who can’t travel, including people with low-incomes and people with disabilities.

And due to systemic barriers and this country’s legacy of racism and discrimination, Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other people of color disproportionately feel the effects of abortion bans and restrictions.

We know this is true, because we’ve seen it play out in Texas. Already, women in Texas have to travel hundreds of miles to seek abortion services. Many women in Texas do not have the means or the opportunity.

When you read Justice Alito’s draft opinion, it is quite clear that this Justice has harbored a desire to overturn Roe for the 16 years he has been on the Supreme Court. Now, thanks to the three Trump Justices, his radical opinions on abortion are no longer dissents, but the majority opinion. This is our worst fear coming true.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell keeps calling Democrats “extreme” saying that he would never support “smashing” the filibuster on this or any issue. While in fact, his “smashing” of the filibuster on Supreme Court Justices is the reason three radical Trump Justices got on the Court in the first place. And the reason why women are about to lose a Constitutional right we have counted on for almost 50 years.

And make no mistake—these radical Justices are just getting started. Alito’s draft opinion, which denigrates any privacy basis for Roe, casts doubt on other privacy rights. Without a privacy right, the states are basically unfettered in what they do.

And now that the radical right-wing Justices are on the cusp of getting what they wish, Justice Alito is already signaling what’s next—revisiting Obergefell, the marriage equality decision. And we know so much more is at stake.

We cannot sit back and accept this as our new normal. We cannot go back to a time when women had no autonomy over our own bodies. We cannot go back to a time when members of the LGBTQ+ community were treated as second class citizens. And we cannot go back to a time where basic human rights were left up to the states to decide.

Not only do we have to push to codify Roe nationally, but we have to take this fight to the ballots in November.

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