As abortion is banned and criminalized in many states across the United States, members of the U.S. Congress reintroduced federal legislation to re-establish a nationwide right to abortion today, March 30. If passed, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) will create a new right for providers to provide—and their patients to receive—abortion care throughout the U.S. The Center has been supporting WHPA since it was first introduced in 2013.
The bill’s reintroduction comes nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022. The House passed the bill for a second time in July 2022, but the bill failed to overcome the filibuster to advance in the Senate.
The Supreme Court’s ruling—which overturned Roe v. Wade and the nearly 50-year precedent recognizing the constitutional right to abortion—has caused a public health crisis leaving millions of people without access to abortion care in their communities. Since the Court’s decision, 12 states have criminalized abortion and another eight are likely to do the same.
“Congress can restore what the Supreme Court has broken. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, women and pregnant people across the country are being denied the care they need,” said the Center’s President and CEO Nancy Northup. “We are in the midst of a public health crisis that will only get worse. The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish a nationwide right to abortion—something the strong majority of Americans have shown they support, time and again. This bill has never been more necessary than it is today, and the addition of new provisions will protect the right to travel across state lines to seek care and protect people who assist others in securing abortion care. The time to pass WHPA is now.”
In addition to re-establishing a nationwide right, WHPA safeguards abortion access by protecting the right to travel for abortion care and creating new protections for patients, providers, and those who assist people in exercising their right to abortion.
WHPA was introduced in the House of Representatives with 208 original co-sponsors by lead sponsors Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX). It was introduced in the Senate on March 8 by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
The Criminalization of Abortion in the U.S.
In addition to the outright bans on abortion sweeping states hostile to abortion rights, other extreme efforts to criminalize and stigmatize abortion access are picking up across the country.
In an unprecedented attempt to prevent people from traveling to access health care, anti-abortion state lawmakers have introduced at least seven bills that would prohibit travel across state lines to access abortion care. With entire regions—particularly in the South and Midwest—becoming abortion deserts, harmful measures like these threaten to further cut people off from accessing timely, essential health care.
On a national level, an anti-abortion organization is suing the FDA in a Texas court in an attempt to remove abortion medications entirely from the market in all U.S. states—even in states where abortion is legal and protected. Medication abortion is the most common and accessible form of abortion in the U.S.
These attempts are all part of achieving the nationwide ban on abortion that anti-abortion activists have long been working toward.
After Roe fell:
- 66 clinics were forced to stop providing abortion care within the first 100 days of the decision.
- Travel time to an abortion facility in the U.S. has tripled since Roe fell.
- 70+ million people live in U.S. states where abortion is now illegal.
WHPA is a Nationwide Solution
WHPA is the federal legislative solution to the criminalization of abortion in the U.S. It creates a new statutory right for providers to provide and their patients to receive abortion care.
The bill is backed by a coalition working toward a future where every person in the U.S. can make their own decisions about whether and when to have a family.
The Center’s U.S. Abortion Strategy: Building Stronger Legal Protections for Reproductive Autonomy
Securing federal legislative protections for abortion rights in the U.S. is part of the Center’s multi-pronged strategy to build legal protections for reproductive autonomy—protections that will be even stronger than those established under Roe v. Wade.
Since the day Roe fell, the Center and its partners have been working to protect access in as many states and for as many people as possible. Within days of the ruling, the Center filed a flurry of lawsuits challenging bans that had been unenforceable under Roe and took urgent action to advance proactive policies. In the months since, Center experts have been working toward long-term, lasting change through litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and legal analysis.
Advancing federal legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act is a key component of this strategy and ensuring that reproductive autonomy—and the human right to access abortion—is guaranteed across the U.S. and throughout the world.