Following the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion indicating that the Court may be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the U.S. Senate will hold on May 11 a second vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
WHPA is a federal bill that would safeguard the right to access abortion from bans and other restrictions that make abortion difficult or impossible to access for many people. WHPA creates a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive, abortion care free from restrictions and bans.
In February 2022, the Senate held its first-ever vote on WHPA in which the bill did not receive the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster. The U.S. House of Representatives passed WHPA in September 2021, marking the first time the House has passed standalone, proactive abortion legislation in its history.
If enacted, WHPA would protect the right to access abortion care across the country, even if Roe v. Wade were weakened or overturned.
U.S. Supreme Court Will Soon Rule on the Right to Abortion
The vote on WHPA comes as the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates in the Center’s case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenging Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion. In addition to asking the Court to uphold its ban, the state has asked the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and rule that there is no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. A ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would mark the first time in history that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken away a fundamental right.
On May 2, Politico published a leaked draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Chief Justice John Roberts later confirmed that the draft was authentic, but that it is not the final position of any Justice, nor a final opinion of the Court. The final opinion is expected before the end of the Court’s term at the end of June.
A ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would be an unprecedented stripping away of a fundamental right that has been in place for nearly five decades. In the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that states cannot ban abortion prior to viability. If Roe v. Wade were overruled, half the states in the U.S. are expected to immediately take action to ban abortion outright.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is Supported by a Broad Coalition
The Center is part of a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations spearheading the effort to build support for the Women’s Health Protection Act. The coalition—made up of organizations committed to sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice—has been building support for WHPA for nearly a decade.
The Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced in both the House and Senate on June 8, 2021, by lead sponsors Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX).
In September 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration issued a Statement of Administrative Policy supporting passage of WHPA in the House, stating, “In the wake of Texas’ unprecedented attack, it has never been more important to codify this constitutional right and to strengthen health care access for all women, regardless of where they live.”
WHPA Would Protect Abortion Access in Every U.S. State
Since 2011, anti-abortion lawmakers have passed more than 500 laws restricting and banning abortion. These laws make it extremely difficult, and often impossible, for people to access abortion care where they live—and disproportionately impact people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care.
The harms of abortion bans and restrictions fall most heavily on people who already face barriers to accessing health care and are part of the intertwined systems of oppression that deny Black, Indigenous, and people of color access to their rights. The elimination of abortion restrictions is essential to the pursuit of reproductive, economic, and racial justice.
Voters Support the Women’s Health Protection Act
Nationally representative polling, conducted by Hart Research in 2021, found that 61% of voters support passage of a national law that would protect the constitutional right to access abortion by creating a nationwide safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. The Women’s Health Protection Act would accomplish that.
The polling also found that nearly seven in 10 voters believe that the constitutional right to abortion should be protected. And when informed that 24 states are likely to ban abortion completely if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 58% of voters nationwide said that this is a big concern.
- About the Women’s Health Protection Act
- Efforts to Advance Women’s Health Protection Act Continue After Bill Falls Short of Passage in Historic Senate Vote, 02.28.2022
- In Historic Vote, U.S House Passes Women’s Health Protection Act, 09.24.21
- Biden-Harris Statement of Administration Policy, 09.20.21
- Women’s Health Protection Act Introduced in U.S. Congress to Protect Abortion Access, 06.08.21
- Polling: Sold Majority of Voters Support the Women’s Health Protection Act