As Supreme Court Prepares to Hear its First Case on Abortion Access Since Justice Barrett Joined the Court, Need for Federal Legislation is Dire
Washington, DC — Today, Congress moved to protect access to safe, legal abortion across the country by re-introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). Led by reproductive health care champions — Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — this critical legislation would protect the right to abortion throughout the United States and guard against the medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being pushed forward by state politicians, even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, by establishing a statutory right to provide and receive abortion care.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
The majority of Americans know: Abortion is safe, essential health care. Yet state politicians across the country have been doing all they can to block people from this care, and our nation’s highest court is about to hear a case that could undermine our constitutional right to abortion. 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. That’s why Planned Parenthood is proud to support Reps. Chu, Frankel, Pressley, and Escobar, Sens. Blumenthal and Baldwin, and the other health care champions in Congress who re-introduced WHPA today — Congress must pass this critical legislation immediately.
The need to pass WHPA became all the more urgent last month 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. 79% of Americans support the right to safe, legal abortion protected under Roe. Overturning Roe would 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 the Trump administration appointed, 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 most 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., due to state-level restrictions, abortion is a right in name only. While WHPA would not grant all people equitable access to abortion and other essential health care overnight, 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.