May 11, 2022
CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: “WOMEN ARE BEING THREATENED BY A RUNAWAY, RADICAL, RIGHT WING SUPREME COURT MAJORITY”
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Vice Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) held a leadership press conference where they emphasized House Democrats’ commitment to ensuring that every woman is able to make her own health care decisions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s radical assault on women’s freedoms. They were joined by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), sponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act and Rep. Dianna DeGette (D-CO), Co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus.
CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: We had a very robust discussion earlier today within the Caucus on two pressing issues that need to be dealt with decisively as it relates to freedom, both here in America and freedom abroad. The freedom for a woman to make her own health care decisions, which is being threatened by a runaway, radical, right wing Supreme Court majority. That's shameful and we're going to fight, and we're going to fight, we're going to fight and we're going to win and protect a woman's freedom to make her own health care decisions between herself and her doctor, not a runaway Supreme Court.
And, of course, we continue to stand on the side of Ukraine and fight for their freedom in a battle between freedom and tyranny, a battle between democracy and dictatorship, a battle between truth and propaganda. We advanced a robust aid package yesterday, military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance and continued to stand with Ukraine against the Russian aggression that is so devastating to the Ukrainian people. But we're thankful for their spirit, their resolve, their resilience and House Democrats—unlike many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle—House Democrats will continue to stand with Ukraine.
VICE CHAIR AGUILAR: As the Chairman mentioned, we're in shock and frustration over the decision overturning Roe and eliminating access to abortion for millions of women. I have not lived in an America where Roe v. Wade was not the law of the land. For 50 years, it's been a fundamental right in this country for women to have control of their own bodies and to make their own health care decisions. I'm deeply concerned that we could see women and doctors jailed for seeking or providing an abortion. I fear that the result of this radical Supreme Court decision would not just hurt women, but it would be a devastating blow to those of us who believe in the rule of law, and believe that there are limits to how much the government can encroach in our personal lives and who believe in safe and affordable access to care is a basic right.
REP. CHU: Last week, a bomb was dropped on the American people when the draft decision was released showing that five justices were for ending Roe v. Wade. Immediately, I thought about the millions of women that would be affected whose choice for their futures would be deprived from them. I thought about our own colleagues, Congressmember Cori Bush, who was 17 when she was raped and had an abortion. Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, whose pregnancy would have ended her life and decided to have an abortion. I thought about Congressmember Jackie Speier, who at 17 weeks of pregnancy, found out her fetus was coming out of the uterus and decided to have an abortion. I thought about all the women in all 50 states who have this right for 50 years who would have this choice taken away from them.
So, that is why I introduced the Women's Health Protection Act. I could see that this right was being eroded since 2013 by the different states and now this day has come. The House was ready. Immediately in September, the House passed this bill by 218 to 211. It was the most supported pro-choice bill in the history of Congress. So we passed it in the House, President Biden has said he would sign this bill, but we need the Senate. Thankfully, Leader Schumer has put it on the floor for a vote. We need the Senate to act. We do know there are 49 senators who are Democrats who are for this bill. We do know that there are two Republican senators that are pro-choice. We call on them to do the right thing and vote for this bill.
But if they do not, I can tell you something. Today is not the end, today is just the beginning. Today, we start the march towards the November elections and in fact, today is the start of the galvanization of all women in this country and the men who support them. That's why we will march this weekend in support of abortion rights. We will march for the right to make decisions about our own bodies and we will march to the polls this November to protect the rights of every person in every state for the right to an abortion.
REP. DEGETTE: The House has done its job, as my colleague Judy Chu said. For the first time in 2018, the House had a pro-choice majority. And so, when we got a pro-choice Democrat in the White House in 2020, we decided it was time to tell the American public exactly where we stood on making sure that every woman in this country has the ability to make the full range of health care decisions, including an abortion. And so, as Judy said, we were ready. We had been working on this for a long time. And so, within days after the Supreme Court's first decision on the Texas case, we brought her Women's Health Protection Act, which would put Roe v. Wade into law for everybody in this country, not just some states. We put it on the floor. And as she said, we passed it 218 to 211. Also, in this last fiscal year, we're working with Chair Rosa DeLauro. We took all of the Hyde restrictions that say there's no public funding for abortion out of the appropriations bills for the first time in history.
The House is pro-choice. We have a pro-choice majority, and we need to keep it that way because we need to have a backstop against the extreme legislative efforts that we're going to see. I join my colleagues in saying the Senate needs to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, but if they don't, the House is there, number one, to make sure that these extreme pieces of legislation limiting health care choices don't go through, and to make sure that the people of America understand how very, very, very real the danger is to them.
And look, Judy is right. People have assumed for almost 50 years now that they could make their health care decisions. They now know that the radical Supreme Court and the Republican majority has no intention to let that happen. And what we are about to see is a have and have-not situation where half the states let women have their full rights and half restrict that.
Video of the full press conference and Q&A can be viewed here.