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With Republican-led states enacting new tight restrictions on abortion access in those states, lawmakers in both houses of Congress have introduced federal legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion, everywhere.
Sens Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), and Reps Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla), joined leading women’s health advocates to announce the introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
This follows enactment of new state-level laws aimed at restricting access to abortion services, particularly in Alabama which enacted a virtual ban on all abortions, threatening prison terms of up to 99 years for those physicians found to have provided an abortion.
However, the WHPA would guarantee a pregnant person’s right to access an abortion—and the right of an abortion provider to deliver these abortion services—free from medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s individual choice or the provider-patient relationship, according to the bill’s sponsors.
The legislation was introduced with historic support in both chambers, with 42 co-sponsors in the Senate and 171 co-sponsors in the House, supporters said.
From Roe v. Wade in 1973 to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized abortion as a constitutional right. However, anti-abortion advocates have worked for years at the state-level to pass laws meant to undermine or eliminate access to abortion care. Just in this legislative session, 34 laws that restrict and impede access to abortion have already passed in 15 states this legislative session and another 350 restrictive laws have been introduced. WHPA would stop these attacks and ensure that abortion access first guaranteed under Roe is a reality for everyone, everywhere, supporters of the legislation said.
A recent Politico-Morning Consult national tracking survey found that a majority of registered voters oppose the restrictive laws passed in Georgia and Alabama, including 59 percent of women and 55 percent of independents. The same survey also found that 52 percent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade—including 48 percent of Republican voters.
“Right now in states across this country, Roe v. Wade is under attack and millions of women are at risk of losing the freedom to make their own personal health decisions,” said Senator Baldwin. “It is past time to stand up to these extreme threats to women’s constitutionally-protected reproductive rights, which is why I’m championing the Women’s Health Protection Act. Every woman, regardless of where she lives, deserves the freedom to make her own, personal decisions about her health care, her family and her body.”
WHPA is endorsed by leading women’s health and civil rights organizations, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the ACLU.
“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.”