With a number of health care rights currently under threat, a group of Senators has introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act to guarantee the right to access abortion services in the United States.
The bill would guarantee the right of a patient to access an abortion, as well as the right of health care providers to deliver such services. Importantly, the bill prohibits medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s choice or the provider-patient relationship.
The bill comes amid a wave of attacks on women’s health rights, including a number of new restrictions and bills aimed at limiting access to abortion care services and making it harder on women to receive abortions. Additionally, a new case at the Supreme Court throws the right to abortion up in the air.
“The rights of women to make decisions about their own health care and access the health care resources they need continue to come under attack as more states pass draconian laws to ban abortions,” Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. “As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case that could further undermine Roe v. Wade, it’s imperative that we pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and put a stop to these attempts to outlaw abortion.”
Leaders of the bill include Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.), who joined with with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas).
The bill is an urgent priority for a number of women’s rights activists and is supported across several groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights. Over the last decade, nearly 500 state laws have been passed restricting access to abortion, according the Center. And even more recently, the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative swing, decided to take up a case that could threaten to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is not a new piece of legislation. In fact, it was first introduced in 2013 and has been revived ever since. As the bill is brought up again, a new poll from the Center reveals a majority of Americans support access to abortion--61% of Americans support passage of a national law that protects the constitutional right to access abortion.
The bill would act as a safeguard against legislative restrictions again abortion services that have cropped up at the state level over the last decade.
“This poll sends a clear message to Congress: the majority of voters want abortion protected under federal law,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “We cannot wait any longer. If Roe falls, many states will immediately take action to make abortion a crime. Even now, with constitutional protections in place, state legislators have made it impossible to access abortion in the South and Midwest—especially for Black people and other people of color who already face barriers to health care.’"