February 13, 2020 – Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, testified in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 2975/S. 1645), federal legislation that answers the recent calls to ‘codify Roe’ by safeguarding the right to access abortion care for all people in the United States.

In her testimony, Nancy Northup described the growing crisis in abortion care access in the United States and urged Congress to take action on the landmark legislation:

Our Constitution protects the right of each of us to chart our own life path and to make the deeply personal decisions that impact our lives, our families, and our health, including whether and when to become a parent. One in four women in the United States will make the decision to have an abortion in the course of her life. Yet in large parts of the United States, obtaining abortion care is difficult—and in some cases, impossible—due to a coordinated, nationwide strategy to eliminate access to abortion care.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure that the right to abortion first recognized nearly fifty years ago in Roe v. Wade is a day-to-day reality for people in the United States, no matter what state they happen to live in… We need this law now—because the crisis is now.

Read Nancy Northup’s testimony here.

The Women’s Health Protection Act establishes a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans.

The hearing took place in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA). The Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced in the House by Representatives by Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) on May 23, 2019. The bill has earned the support of over 210 cosponsors in the House, more than in any previous Congress. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced an identical bill in the Senate with 42 original cosponsors. 

“Today’s hearing in the House of Representatives marks a significant step forward for the Women’s Health Protection Act and efforts to safeguard reproductive rights,” said Senator Blumenthal. “State legislatures are pursuing and passing politically-overreaching anti-choice laws that directly hurt women and their families as they make deeply private and often difficult medical decisions. A woman’s right to choose is constitutionally-protected and overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans. The Women’s Health Protection Act will defend this essential human right for all women and ensure they have access to a safe and legal abortion, no matter their zip code.”

Since 2011, nearly 450 laws prohibiting or restricting abortion care have been pushed through state legislatures. In 2019 alone, 18 states passed 46 anti-abortion laws, making the ability to access comprehensive reproductive health care vary widely from state to state. 

“The Trump Administration and Republican legislators across the country are on a mission to end the protection of Roe v. Wade. This bill will help us fight back against onerous state legislation that obstructs access to safe abortion and a woman’s right to control her own reproductive destiny,” said Congresswoman Frankel.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has spearheaded efforts to build support for the Women’s Health Protection Act since the bill’s first introduction in 2013. For nearly 30 years, the Center has been using the power of law to promote access to reproductive health care, and has been involved in every major abortion rights case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

On March 4, 2020, the Center will return to the Supreme Court with June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo to challenge one of these harmful and medically unnecessary laws: a Louisiana law identical to one the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt just four years ago. The Louisiana law would make it nearly impossible for most Louisiana residents to obtain abortion care, and is one of the many types of abortion restrictions the Women’s Health Protection Act would protect against.

For more information on The Women’s Health Protection Act, including the full text of the bill, please visit ActForWomen.org.

A shareable Q & A can be found here.

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