The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) that would cement the right to abortion access nationwide. It is the first such bill the house has ever approved.
The bill comes after Texas enacted an extremely restrictive law to ban abortion access after heartbeat detection. The law, which is currently being challenged in the courts and will likely be overturned for its unconstitutionality, is the most restrictive in the nation. However, other states, including Arizona and Florida, are following suit with copycat laws making their way through the state legislatures.
With the dangerous laws spreading, the House aimed to establish a statutory right for health are professionals to provide abortion care and the right for patients to receive abortion care without the burden of imposing state laws. Access to abortion care for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy became solidified in the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade back in 1973, but Republicans in several states have chipped away at access and women’s rights ever since.
“The legislative attacks on reproductive health care have made it so that women in some parts of the country have diminished access to essential reproductive health care,” reads a one-pager document on the bill from Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), one of the three sponsoring the Senate version of the bill. “We need a federal law that would make these restrictions unlawful, thus allowing medical providers to do the important work of providing safe, legal, high-quality health care to all women across the country.”
Several advocacy groups voiced their support of the bill and applauded its passage in the House, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and NARAL.