Politics

Watch: Ayanna Pressley says she is ‘resolved and determined’ in the fight to protect abortion rights

“Nobody's free until everybody's free.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., left, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., return to the House after members of the House Progressive Caucus went to the Senate chamber and shouted in protest ahead of a procedural vote on the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday, May 11. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley made a passionate plea to legislators on Wednesday, urging her colleagues to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.  

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 codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. 

A few hours later, the act failed — as predicted — to pass the Senate, receiving a vote of 49-51, shy of the 60-vote threshold needed. 

In her speech calling for passage of the act, the Massachusetts Democrat addressed those who would be impacted by the overturning of the 50-year-old abortion ruling.

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“I rise today in solidarity with the one in four women across this country who have had an abortion and every person who will ever see abortion care: your neighbor, coworker, family member, those who you work with and yes, those who you worship with, too,” Pressley said. “I rise today to proclaim I see, I love you, and I stand with you. Carry no shame for your healthcare force, the only shame is that there are forces at work to deny you it.”

Pressley said on the floor that she is “resolved and determined” in the fight to protect abortion rights.

“SCOTUS has offered empty words in their leaked draft ruling and then threw up barricades and fences knowing full well that the majority of people who call this nation home vehemently disagree,” Pressley said. “SCOTUS claims that our human rights are invalidated by their opinion of what is and isn’t rooted in our ‘history and traditions.’”

Then, Pressley offered a “quick history lesson,” reminding listeners that the nation’s history and traditions denied her very personhood, bought and sold her ancestors, and exploited the bodies of people who look like her. 

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“The court fails to live up to its ideals and its purpose,” Pressley said. “The idea of justice under the law has been a rallying cry, but not a reality for many. The anti-abortion movement in America is rooted in organized white supremacy, and overturning 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 cannot stomach one more lecture about the preservation of civil liberties when you seek to deny me the very freedom and agency over my own body,” Pressley said. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

After Senate failed to pass the act, Pressley issued a statement saying she was glad Senators are now on the record “so their constituents can see which side of history they chose to be on.”

“Today, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land,” Pressley said in the statement. “If you have an appointment, keep it. If you need care, seek it. Abortion care is a fundamental human right, and we will not stop organizing, mobilizing, and marching until our policies and budgets reflect that truth.”

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