Since the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld that abortion is a fundamental right. Two years ago today, the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedtdecision reaffirmed that right. Yet many state politicians have engaged in an unrelenting and increasingly aggressive attack on women’s reproductive health care, introducing and passing unconstitutional bills that would restrict women’s rights. With a president who has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who’ll overturn Roe—and Justice Kennedy’s retirement providing that opportunity—a federal legislative solution is needed now more than ever. The Women’s Health Protection Act is a federal bill that would prohibit states from passing laws blocking access to safe, legal abortion, interfering with patients’ personal decision-making, or imposing abortion restrictions that are not applied to similar medical procedures. To commemorate the second anniversary of the Whole Woman’s Health decision, several Senators took to the floor in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act.
What should you know about the Women’s Health Protection Act?
The bill is a federal law that would safeguard abortion access:
President Trump’s appointment of Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court—a move lauded by reproductive rights opponents—suggests that he is pressing forward with his campaign promise to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Center’s report, What If Roe Fell, finds that abortion could become illegal or nearly illegal in at least 32 states, potentially affecting tens of millions of women if Roe is toppled. With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, the balance of the Court will likely turn against the constitutional right to abortion access. It is more important now than ever that the right to abortion be protected through federal legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is a proactive measure against attacks on abortion access:
Emboldened by an anti-choice administration, opponents of women’s reproductive rights have escalated their efforts to chip away at abortion access. More than 896 state restrictions have been introduced since June 2016, 143 of which have been passed into law. The Women’s Health Protection Act would prevent states from passing dangerous legislation stifling access to essential health care and endangering women’s lives.
The bill would invalidate laws that single out abortion providers for onerous restrictions:
While many legislators claim that laws requiring unnecessary regulations, procedures, and waiting periods are meant to protect women’s health, they instead interfere with the safe provision of abortion services, undermine women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, and ultimately shut down clinics. Under the bill, states could no longer pass laws singling out abortion providers for medically unnecessary requirements.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would alleviate disparities in access to reproductive health care:
A woman’s constitutional rights should not depend on her zip code. Yet because of laws like those recently challenged in Virginia, Montana, Mississippi and elsewhere, women across the country have been divided into those who can and those who cannot make their own decisions about reproductive health care. By writing into federal law protection for abortion services, the bill would address sharp disparities in access to care and ensure that women across the country enjoy the same rights regardless of where they live.
With the support of champions in Congress—including Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)—alongside our partner organizations in the Act for Women coalition, the Center is leading the charge to advance this crucial legislation on Capitol Hill. Stand up for women and tell your member of Congress to support the Women’s Health Protection Act.