VIDEO: On Senate Floor, Peters Urges Passage of Women’s Health Protection Act and Shares Family Abortion Story
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act and shared his family’s personal abortion story. The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect against dangerous state laws that limit health care professionals’ ability to carry out and provide essential reproductive health care services by codifying Roe V. Wade into law.
Peters was the first and only Senator to share his personal family story with abortion – which he shared again recently as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that would severely undermine a key right that women and families have relied on for over 50 years.
“Right now, we may see a Supreme Court come out with a decision to basically end Roe v. Wade, and in the process, end a fundamental right that women in this country have had available to them for 50 years.” said Senator Peters. “…Let's preserve the right of women to do what they think is best. That's why we have to pass the Women's Health Protection Act – and why I would urge all my colleagues to search their heart and listen to the stories that people will tell them and understand that the right thing to do is to protect reproductive freedoms and rights in America.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ remarks on the Senate floor, click here.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would enact a federal law that would make any targeted restrictions against medical providers who carry out this critical work unlawful. Specifically, it would create a statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access.
Below are Senator Peters’ full remarks, as delivered:
“Madam President, I also rise to speak about the need to pass the Women's Health Protection Act. Certainly the Senator from Maryland outlined a very strong argument as to why this fundamental protection – this fundamental right – needs to be protected.
“And we know that right now, we may see a Supreme Court come out with a decision to basically end Roe versus Wade, and in the process end a fundamental right that women in this country have had available to them for 50 years.
“You know, we can hear all the arguments, and my colleagues will present an awful lot of arguments tonight and tomorrow as to why we need to pass this Act. But for me, this is personal, a personal experience that I have had.
“And it's an experience that unfortunately, many, many families have.
“In fact, as I've shared this story, I've been really overwhelmed by people reaching out to me and saying that they too had a very similar story and how me talking about it brought out their willingness to share the experience as well.
“And in addition to that, they understand how important it is that we protect Roe versus Wade, and we protect the right for women to make critical decisions for themselves along with their doctor and not have politics interfere with those decisions.
“So my story involves my first wife, when she was pregnant with a child that we very much wanted. We were looking forward to have a second child.
“And then in the fourth month – towards the end of the fourth month – her water broke. Clearly a very dangerous situation.
“She went to go see her physician. Her physician examined her and said, ‘With this water breaking the amniotic fluid has now left the uterus. There's no way the baby can survive in this situation.’ But he examined her – there was a very faint heartbeat. So he says ‘there's a faint heartbeat here but there's no way this this this baby's going survive. What I think will happen is you're going to have a miscarriage. So go home tonight. And you'll have a miscarriage and then come in and see me tomorrow.’
“Well, you can imagine the anguish the horrible evening and despair that she was in and I was in. It was a long, long night.
“The next morning nothing happened. She went back to the physician – we went back to the physician – examined her again and said, ‘Well, I'm really surprised I don't know why this – you didn't miscarry.’ Because it's clear that there's no way this baby can survive in this situation. The amniotic fluid is gone. The cushion is gone.
“But he goes, ‘You know, I don't think I can do anything because there's still a faint heartbeat here. I don't know why they're still a faint heartbeat. So go home again tonight. I think tonight is going to be the night you have a miscarriage.’
“We went back again. It didn't happen. Another horrible night. Horrible. The mental anguish is intense. And families who've gone through this know exactly what I'm talking about.
“We went the next day. Again, the examiner, he goes, ‘I can't understand this.’ He goes, ‘But you know this is going on, I'm really worried that there's going to be an infection here. There isn't the protection there. But you could go into septic shock and your health is definitely in danger here.’
“Again, the baby can't survive. In fact, without the amniotic fluid and the cushion your baby could lose its limbs – and the horrible, horrible, nightmarish kind of thoughts in our mind.
“So he says ‘You know, I’m going to go to the hospital. And I'm going to say even though there's a faint heartbeat, this is a medical necessity that we have to do d and c abortion here to protect your health. And potentially your life if we don't take care of this. So I'll go the hospital, go home. And I'll call you let you know when I can bring you in.’
“Well, he called it – and I'll never forget the voicemail that was left. He goes, ‘You know, I'm really sorry to say this. I went to the hospital board. I explained the medical necessity here. I understand what you're going through how we have to take care of this because it could clearly be a serious situation if you go into septic shock. And the board said no. As long as there was a faint heartbeat. You can't perform this procedure.’
“And then he goes, “There is no reason for this decision from the hospital board. It is not based on sound medicine. It's not based on medical practice, it's not based on what's best for your health. This is based on politics, plain and simple. This is politics.’
“And he goes, ‘I'm ashamed that this happened. And I'm embarrassed that I have to call you and tell you I can't do it because the hospital will not grant me privileges to do it.’
“So he says, ‘My advice to you is find a doctor now – immediately – that can take care of this procedure.’
“Well, you can imagine how scary that is. How frightening that is, and what we're going through, like, ‘Who do we call in that situation?’
“Now, we were fortunate in the fact that we had a friend who was a hospital administrator at another hospital. And he got us in to see the gynecologist – OBGYN – at the hospital to examine her. We went in there and he examined her and he said, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to do this procedure now, there is no more time, this is getting incredibly dangerous. We have to do the d and c abortion.’
“He said, ‘You're about to go – this infection is starting – it's going to get worse. If I don't do this quickly, you're going to lose your uterus. And if we don't do it quickly, you could very well lose your life with the infection that can occur here.’
“So he immediately performed the procedure.
“But just think of that. If we didn't have the opportunity to see another doctor who was able to perform it – understood the severity of it – my wife, at the time, my former wife could have easily lost a uterus, have severe significant health impacts and could have lost her life.
“And it just kept ringing in my mind what that doctor said: this is about politics. This is not about what's good medicine, medical practice, this is not about caring about someone's health and caring about their life. It was about politics.
“And that is why we have to protect Roe versus Wade, we have to protect the right for women to control their bodies – to control their reproductive health. It cannot be a decision made by politicians here in this in this body or other places.
“And this is a real situation that families face. As I mentioned the outpouring of folks who have come to me that have had similar situations.
“And I think about Michigan right now – Michigan has a law on the books that was written in 1931 that says all abortion is prohibited in our state. It doesn't matter whether or not it's involves the health of the mother, doesn't matter if it's the life of the mother, doesn't matter if a woman is the victim of rape or incest. It's just simply not allowed.
“Well I think that's unconscionable. And that's what will happen. It's a real-life situation that could happen if the court decides to go forward and reverse Roe vs. Wade.
“Situations like what my former wife went through and families all across America will be not able to have that kind of option. And you think about the no exception for rape or incest that you'll have a 17 year old girl in Michigan who is raped, she will have no options.
“I know a majority of people in the United States believe that is unacceptable. I know a majority of people in the United States believe that women have the right to make these most personal – these most intimate – decisions themselves with the advice of their physician and whoever else that they want to consult.
“This is not about politics. This is not about the opinions of folks who think that they know better.
“Let's preserve the right of women to do what they think is best. That's why we have to pass the Women's Health Protection Act – and why I would urge all my colleagues to search their heart and listen to the stories that people will tell them and understand that the right thing to do is to protect reproductive freedoms and rights in America.”
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