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Nearly 500 laws that restrict or ban abortion have been passed since 2011. Increasingly, access to safe and affordable abortion care is dependent on where you live. Roadblocks like medically unnecessary wait times, forcing providers to deliver inaccurate counseling, and requiring ultrasounds all limit a person’s ability to make an independent medical decision. These unnecessary restrictions disproportionately impact pregnant people of color who already face barriers to accessing quality and affordable heath care
Today, Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Senators Richard Blumental (CT) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) of 2021 with the support of over 100 reproductive health, rights, and justice groups. WHPA is essential to ensuring that all health care providers have the right to provide abortion care and patients have the right to receive abortion services without medically unnecessary restrictions that limit access.
Reproductive Justice acknowledges that pregnant people can’t make informed decisions about their pregnancy when options are limited by systemic and oppressive barriers, but in recent years, there have been unprecedented attacks on pregnant people’s right to have an abortion. In many states, anti-abortion lawmakers have targeted the provider-patient relationship, to restrict access. The bill would protect patients against some of the most common restrictions, including, pre-viability bans, mandatory sonograms, medically inaccurate counseling, telemedicine restrictions, and provider admission privilege requirements.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced they will hear a case related to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Anti-abortion lawmakers have continuously passed unconstitutional laws, with the hope that they make their way through the courts system. The outcome of this case could threaten people’s right to medically safe abortion care. WHPA includes provisions to prevent lawmakers from implementing new restrictions and outlines considerations courts should take to evaluate whether a law unfairly targets abortion access.
In combination with restrictions like the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds for abortion care in federal health insurance programs, access to safe and affordable abortion care is limited. WHPA is an important first step in dismantling the laws that have been passed to limit pregnant people’s access to abortion care. On May 26, 2021, In Our Own Voice sent a letter, signed by other members of the Reproductive Justice community, to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in support of WHPA. Click here for more information on WHPA.