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Abortion is a right. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Images
Congress has made its move in the abortion debate, but will it make an impact? Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

A legislative answer to building abortion restrictions is introduced in Congress

The Women’s Health Protection Act would guarantee the right to abortion services in the U.S.

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Senators Dianne Feinstein, Alex Padilla, Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, joined Reps. Judy Chu, Lois Frankel, Ayanna Pressley and Veronica Escobar to introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), a bill that would guarantee the right to abortion services in the U.S. 

The WHPA would secure the right of a patient to access an abortion, and the right of a healthcare provider to deliver abortion services, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s choice or the provider-patient relationship. 

The bill’s introduction follows the Supreme Court decision to hear arguments in a case that directly threatens 50 years of unprecedented protection of reproductive rights. 

It also follows the law that Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed into law on Wednesday, May 19, prohibiting abortions as early as six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant — and allowing almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others.

In a statement about the WHPA, Rep. Escobar had some harsh comments about the Texas law.

“In Texas, Republicans recently passed one of the most draconian laws in the country to ban abortions as early as six weeks — before most women even know they are pregnant, and without making any exceptions for victims of rape or incest. We must urgently pass the Women's Health Protection Act to preserve women's access to safe and legal abortions everywhere,” Escobar said. 

Pro-choice advocates have considered it one of the most extreme nationwide and strictest anti-abortion laws in Texas since the landmark Roe v Wade decision. 

From Roe v Wade in 1973 to Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt in 2016, the Supreme Court has consistently affirmed that there is a constitutional right to reproductive autonomy. 

Despite these federal level protections, anti-choice advocates have worked relentlessly for years to pass state laws meant to undermine or flat out eliminate access to abortion care. 

Throughout the last decade, state lawmakers have uplifted approximately 500 restrictive laws that make access difficult and sometimes impossible. 

In 2021 alone, four states have passed legislation banning abortion beyond the sixth week of pregnancy. Lawmakers in Arkansas and Oklahoma attempted to ban abortion completely. 

WHPA would end these attacks and ensure that all Americans have access to a wide variety of reproductive care. 

“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,” said Sen. Feinstein. 

So far, the bill has 48 Senate co-sponsors and 176 House co-sponsors, including Sens. Mazie K. Hirono, Brian Schatz, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Reps. Ruben Gallego, Cori Bush, Sheila Jackson Lee and Anthony G. Brown. 

"This is part of a deliberate strategy by anti-abortion extremists to use state laws and the courts to slowly chip away at abortion access, with nearly 500 restrictive laws introduced in states since just 2011. That is why we need the Women's Health Protection Act to ensure that no matter where you live, what your background is, or what your zip code, you have the same rights to make decisions about your own body as anyone else,” said Rep. Chu. 

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