Introduction of Women’s Health Protection Act is Critical Step in Safeguarding Reproductive Rights for All U.S. Women

Center for Reproductive Rights Commends Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative Judy Chu, Representative Lois Frankel and Representative Marcia Fudge

(PRESS RELEASE) Today Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative Judy Chu, Representative Lois Frankel and Representative Marcia Fudge introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013—an historic piece of legislation designed to enforce and protect the rights of every woman to obtain a full range of safe and legal reproductive health care and decide for herself whether to continue or end a pregnancy, regardless of where she lives, within the framework of regulations and limits recognized in Roe v. Wade.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“After years of relentless assaults by politicians on their health and rights, women across the U.S. face a health care crisis of catastrophic proportions. The introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act is a crucial step toward defending access to critical reproductive health care and the individual constitutional rights of every woman.

“From Texas to North Dakota, Arizona to North Carolina, the right of every woman to make her own decisions about her pregnancy and to obtain the full range of safe, legal reproductive health care is being decimated by politicians who presume they know better than women and the medical professionals they trust.

“Legislative attacks on reproductive health care in states nationwide have relegated many women to a second class of citizens whose rights and access to essential health services are diminished purely by virtue of where they happen to live.

“A woman’s constitutional rights should not depend on her zip code. We need a federal law that puts women’s rights, health, and lives first. The Women’s Health Protection Act does exactly that.

“We applaud the members of Congress who have introduced this historic legislation, and we urge others to sign on. They will have the full support of the Center for Reproductive Rights as they stand up for the health and rights of all women across the U.S.”

In recent years, politicians have increasingly sought new ways to interfere with personal decision-making and undermine women’s access to abortion care. State legislatures have been more active than ever in passing burdensome requirements that single out abortion providers and services and do nothing to advance women’s health or safety—and, in fact, ultimately jeopardize women’s health and lives. States enacted a record-breaking 92 restrictions on abortion in 2011, and over 100 additional dangerous and unnecessary measures have passed into law since then.

The Women’s Health Protection Act creates federal protections against state restrictions that fail to protect women’s health and intrude upon personal decision-making. Under the Women’s Health Protection Act, states could no longer impose oppressive restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical professionals. Laws could not be enacted that would interfere with women’s personal, private decision making or their access to the full range of safe, legal care at the expense of their health. The strong system of regulations that governs the provision of reproductive health care and truly ensures the safety of women would be maintained. Dangerous regulations passed under pretext that stifle access to abortion care and endanger women’s lives would be prohibited. The individual constitutional rights of every woman would once again be robustly protected and promoted under the law, no matter where she lives.

For more than 20 years, the Center for Reproductive Rights has brought the full power of the U.S. Constitution and courts to bear to ensure that anti-choice politicians in the U.S. do not turn back the clock on reproductive rights. The Center’s legal efforts have helped block harmful and extreme laws attacking women’s rights and health all across the nation, including recent injunctions against:

  • The nation’s most extreme abortion ban in the country, barring abortions as early as six weeks in North Dakota—before many women even know they are pregnant
  • Underhanded and wholly unnecessary requirements that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital in North Dakota and Mississippi—where such a measure, if enacted, would shut down the only abortion provider in the entire state.
  • A law in Oklahoma that banned the use of medication to terminate pregnancies, even for women suffering from dangerous and life-threatening ectopic pregnancies
  • Blatantly unconstitutional bans on abortions at 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy in Arkansas and Arizona, respectively.
  • A measure in Kansas that attempted to redefine what constitutes a medical emergency in a way that would require many pregnant women in life-threatening situations to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining emergency abortion care.