Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights joined leaders in Congress and reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates to celebrate the reintroduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019—federal legislation that would protect abortion access from state-level bans and restrictions threatening to eliminate access around the country.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is being introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla), and Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), and in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis). This bill would create a national safeguard to assure abortion access throughout the United States.
“With an alarming number of states enacting abortion bans and President Trump’s pledge to overturn Roe, we’re taking nothing for granted,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Women’s Health Protection Act will ensure that a woman’s ability to access abortion care does not depend on her zip code, and we will work tirelessly to guarantee that in law.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act, also known as WHPA, already has 171 supporters in the House and 42 in the Senate.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect abortion access from the wave of increasingly punitive state-level laws, like Alabama’s near-total ban, that prevent people from making personal decisions about their health, their lives, and their futures.
“The fact is, the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortions,” said Rep. Chu, pointing out that more than 400 state-level restrictions on abortions have been enacted in the last 8 years. “The draconian bills out of states like Alabama and Georgia last week were the final straw, and you can see that in the broad support we have already gained for WHPA. We cannot subject another generation of girls to the cruelty of having somebody else make choices about their bodies. WHPA is the means to do that.”
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled—most recently in 2016—that abortion is a constitutional right that cannot be hindered by “undue burdens.” Despite these legal guarantees, more than 150 harmful, restrictive laws have been passed in the last three years alone. Evidence shows that these restrictions threaten the quality of medical care patients receive and cause harms that fall most heavily on already marginalized populations: those living in poverty, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, those living in rural areas, and young people.
“This issue is about more than women’s health care, it’s about human rights—all our rights,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “The Women’s Health Protection Act will ensure women have access to safe and legal abortions, regardless of their zip code. It reaffirms what the Supreme Court and a majority of Americans have declared: Women have a constitutional right to control their own body and make their own choices, without abhorrent political overreach that has no basis in medical science or the Constitution.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act establishes a statutory right for health care providers to provide care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary limitations and bans that single out abortion and impede access to services. Restrictions that would be unlawful under the Women’s Health Protection Act include six-week bans, unnecessary tests and procedures, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The Center for Reproductive Rights applauds and supports the introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act to stop this systematic erosion of abortion access and preserve the constitutional right to equal access to abortion, everywhere.
For more information and facts on The Women’s Health Protection Act, including the full text of the bill, please visit ActForWomen.org.
A shareable Q & A can be found here.
You can see a livestream recording of the press conference here.
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