Washington, DC — Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution — led by Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) — held a hearing on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), an important step to protect access to safe, legal abortion across the country. This critical legislation, which was re-introduced last week, would establish a statutory right to provide and receive abortion — a safeguard against the medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being pushed forward by state politicians, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood applauds Chairman Blumenthal and other reproductive health care champions for proudly declaring today what the majority of Americans know: Abortion is safe, essential health care that should be available without politically motivated barriers. It is deeply disturbing that anti-abortion state politicians across the country have been doing all they can to block people from accessing abortion, and the Supreme Court is about to hear a case that could overturn Roe or so severely weaken it that a right to abortion would remain in name only. A person’s ability to access reproductive health care should never be determined by their ZIP code or their income. The Women’s Health Protection Act would bring us one step closer to a world where everyone can take full control of their bodies and their futures — Congress must pass it immediately."
Portion of Opening Statement from Senator Blumenthal, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution:
“This bill very simply aims to restore a future where all of us, all of us are free to make the personal decisions that shape our lives, our futures, our families with dignity and respect without political interference in a decision to be made between a patient and a doctor... Today, 90% of American counties are without a single abortion provider. Twenty-seven states have become in effect abortion deserts because people who live there must travel 100 miles or more to reach a provider. These restrictions and bans very simply make a safe procedure unsafe and for many, impossible to access. That’s why we’re holding this hearing and why the Women’s Health Protection Act is more important than ever before.”
Passing WHPA recently became all the more urgent when the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear its first case on abortion access since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court. That case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is a direct challenge to precedent set by Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing our constitutional right to abortion. Eight in 10 Americans support the right to safe, legal abortion. In addition to all the other existing barriers to abortion, if Roe is overturned or weakened, 26 states could move to ban abortion. This could put more than 25 million women at risk of losing abortion access — over a third of women of reproductive age in the US.
Unfortunately, the attack on abortion access being considered by the court is far from an anomaly. The 2021 state legislative season is shaping up to be the most hostile in recent history for reproductive health and rights. State lawmakers, emboldened by the new makeup of the Supreme Court, and the more than 200 federal judges appointed by the Trump administration, are rushing to control our rights and freedoms. According to the Guttmacher Institute, over 500 abortion restrictions have been introduced this year, and nearly 70 of those have already been passed and signed. These attacks primarily harm the same people who have always faced systemic barriers to care — Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, the LGBTQ+ community, young people, those living in rural communities, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes.
Passing WHPA is necessary even if Roe stands. Already in so many places across the U.S. state-level restrictions mean abortion is a right in name only. While WHPA would not immediately grant all people equitable access to abortion and other essential health care, it is one of many steps — including ending the Hyde Amendment and passing the EACH Act — necessary to truly protect and advance abortion access in the U.S.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.