On Wednesday, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley made an impassioned appeal to lawmakers, urging her colleagues to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.
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She called on the Democratic-controlled Senate, House of Representatives and White House to take decisive action to pass the legislation, which would have effectively codified Roe v. Wade into federal law.
Hours later, the law failed – as expected – to pass the Senate, receiving a 49-51 vote, short of the necessary 60-vote threshold.
In her speech calling for the passage of the law, the Massachusetts Democrat addressed those who would be affected by the overturning of the 50-year-old abortion ruling.
“I stand today in solidarity with one in four women across this country who have had an abortion and anyone who will ever see abortion care: your neighbor, co-worker, family member, those with whom you work and yes, the ones you worship with too,” Pressley said. “I rise today to proclaim that I see, I love you, and I am with you. Have no shame for your health care force, the only shame is that there are forces at work to deny you it.
Pressley said on the court that she was “resolute and determined” in the fight to protect abortion rights.
“SCOTUS offered empty words in its leaked draft decision, then threw up barricades and fences knowing full well that the majority of people who inhabit this nation vehemently disagree,” Pressley said. “SCOTUS asserts that our human rights are invalidated by their view of what is and is not rooted in our ‘history and traditions’.”
Next, Pressley offered a “quick history lesson,” reminding listeners that the nation’s history and lore denied his very personality, bought and sold his ancestry, and exploited the bodies of people who looked like him.
“The court does not live up to its ideals and purpose,” Pressley said. “The idea of justice under the law was a rallying cry, but not a reality for many. The anti-abortion movement in America is rooted in organized white supremacy, and overthrowing Roe v. Wade would only perpetuate cycles of poverty and trap our most vulnerable in systems of oppression. None of this is abstract.
Pressley called for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act to better protect those who need it most. She pointed to the maternal morbidity crisis facing black mothers, who are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.
“I can’t stand another lecture about preserving civil liberties when you seek to deprive me of the very freedom and agency over my own body,” Pressley said. “No one is free until everyone is free.”
After the Senate failed to pass the law, Pressley released a statement saying she was glad senators are now registered “so their constituents can see which side of history they have chosen to be on.” .
“Today, Roe vs. Wade is still the law of the land,” Pressley said in the statement. “If you have an appointment, keep it. If you need care, ask for it. Abortion care is a basic human right, and we will not stop organizing, mobilizing and marching until our policies and budgets reflect this truth.
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