How We Can Ensure Access to Abortion Care for All
The landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established the constitutional right to abortion care, which has since been affirmed in numerous other Supreme Court decisions. While this was a victory for many people to access abortion care, decades of state restrictions on patients and providers and harmful coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment mean abortion care is not accessible to everyone.
Abortion care’s inaccessibility is linked to many things such as living 100 miles or more from the nearest abortion provider, prohibitively high costs of abortion care and restrictions on insurance coverage, limitations on the type of provider that can offer an abortion, lacking access to medically accurate information, and outright unconstitutional efforts to ban abortion care. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in state laws that restrict abortion access, widening the gap between who can get an abortion and who cannot. These restrictions not only impede people’s rights but can and often do exacerbate social and economic inequality. Advocates and members of Congress have worked tirelessly to combat these state laws and ensure equal access to abortion care. The result of their work is Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act of 2021. WHPA and EACH are designed to work hand-in-hand with one another. When passed, WHPA will protect the right to access abortion throughout the United States and EACH will eliminate federal insurance coverage restrictions on abortion care.
What is the Women’s Health Protection Act and What Does it Do?
WHPA is federal legislation that creates a statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access. Some of those unnecessary restrictions WHPA aims to remove are mandatory ultrasounds, biased counseling, waiting periods, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, such as the Louisiana law the Supreme Court struck down last year. The bill also allows the Department of Justice, providers, and individuals harmed by restrictions made unlawful under the Act, to go to court to enforce these rights.
With Roe v. Wade under threat, if passed WHPA would protect access to abortion care nationwide.
So, Why is WHPA Needed Now?
We know that when people can make decisions about whether and when to become a parent, they are more likely to attain their educational goals, have job mobility, and achieve economic security.
But since 2011, nearly 500 laws restricting and banning abortion have passed across the country, causing significant challenges. Those seeking care must often travel long distances; take unpaid time off from work; and find and pay for child care due to state-mandated waiting periods, unnecessary repeat visits, and forced clinic closures causing a lack of providers. These restrictions disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, as they experience disparities in health care directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, and white supremacy.
We need WHPA now more than ever. In May, the Supreme Court announced that it will take up a case that presents a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. The case concerns a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, well before the end of the second trimester, before which Roe v. Wade established the constitutional right to abortion care. Every day without Congressional action means more state level attempts to restrict or ban abortion access. We need a federal legislative solution and WHPA is that solution.
Take Action to Support WHPA
WHPA was introduced on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) in the US House of Representatives, and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in the US Senate.
A strong majority of voters support a new national law that would protect the constitutional right to access abortion by creating a nationwide safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. If you agree people should have the power to decide to have children, not have children, and parent children in safe and sustainable communities, take action today. Here’s what you can do today to make sure everyone has equal access to abortion care. Here’s what you can do today to make sure everyone has equal access to abortion care:
- Contact your members of Congress to ask them to pass WHPA. We’ve made it easy for you!
- Show your support via Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform for the members of Congress supporting this bill using these hashtags: #ActForAbortionAccess #WHPA.
Angela Osmar is the Public Policy Intern at Power to Decide where she assists the Public Policy team with federal policy issues. She attends the University of Central Florida where she studies Public Policy Analysis & Management and she hopes to work in health policy, advocating for women’s rights.