U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

May 25, 2025

Women’s Health

May is Women’s Health Month. June is Men’s Health Month. I would argue that every month should be a time to focus on physical and mental health and encourage everyone to pay attention to the signs their body is sending them. Take advantage of early screenings and preventive health care. Never be embarrassed to talk to a medical professional about what ails you – physically or mentally.

Why do we need separate months to spotlight men’s health and women’s health? Because our bodies and systems are different. How women and men respond to environmental factors, stress, medication, food and even exercise, are different. For too many years, medical research ignored these differences and women were usually the ones who paid the price as symptoms were ignored, overlooked or unknown.

Nowhere are these differences more acute than when it comes to reproductive healthcare, which is an essential component of routine health care for all women. Regretfully, no other aspect of women’s health is under attack like their reproductive health.

For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade defined the right to privacy and with it, the right of individuals to control their own bodies and reproductive freedom. And while the Constitution has not been amended since 1992, the makeup of the courts has changed, up to and including the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was blocked by Republicans in the Senate from even having a confirmation hearing, and President Trump then named three justices to the court – one rushed through in 2020 even as voters were already casting their ballots in the presidential election. The result was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the historic precedents of both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Dobbs decision has had immediate and devastating consequences for the health and well-being of tens of millions of women of reproductive age across the nation. Twenty-one states have now enacted abortion bans or severe restrictions. Women in low-income families, who cannot overcome the financial and logistical barriers to travel to states with abortion access, are suffering the most, increasing existing health disparities.

Delays and denials of care have negatively affected health outcomes for pregnant individuals, some of whom are being forced to forgo cancer treatment, developing sepsis, being left bleeding for days after incomplete miscarriage, enduring risk of rupture due to ectopic pregnancy, and being forced to continue carrying a nonviable fetus.

The right to choose whether to have a child is fundamental, and it is a decision that should only be made by women in consultation with their health care provider – not with interference from federal, state or local governments.

Fortunately, in 2022, Maryland’s the legislature was able to enact the Abortion Care Access Act over Governor Larry Hogan’s veto. The state law expands reproductive health care by allowing additional trained health professionals, including nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants, to perform abortions.

This November, Marylanders will have a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment further protecting abortion and reproductive rights in our state. Such a provision will make it more difficult for opponents of abortion to take away such rights in the future. 

The threat of a national ban on abortion access, as well as limits to contraception and IVF treatments are very real. The Republican-led House of Representatives has approved a number of measures restricting reproductive health care and continue to use any available legislation to tack on anti-choice, punitive language.

In the Senate, many of my colleagues and I are working to dismantle both old and new barriers to women’s health. Next month, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will call a vote for the Right to Contraception Act, a bill I cosponsored that will codify the right to contraception to prevent further restrictions on reproductive health services for all Americans.

Other reproductive freedom bills that I’ve cosponsored are at the ready:

  • Women’s Health Protection Act: A bill that would protect the right to abortion free from medically unnecessary restrictions and create a statutory right for providers to provide and patients to receive care. This would codify Roe v. Wade and prevent states from continuing to enact restrictions on reproductive freedoms.
  • Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act: This bill would reverse the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage bans. These bans deny abortion coverage for people enrolled in federal health insurance programs or who receive health care through a government provider from accessing affordable reproductive care.
  • Access to Family Building Act: This legislation would shield patients seeking IVF and other assisted reproductive technology services, as well as health care insurance companies that cover the procedures.

In just the past year, I’ve also signed onto a bicameral amicus brief for Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to advocate for the FDA’s appeal that supports nationwide access to mifepristone. We’ve also had to reel in colleagues who put our military in jeopardy by blocking the promotions of senior members of our military to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy.

The conversation about reproductive rights and choice is about more than abortion. It’s a whole healthcare conversation that has been going on for decades. Women are tough, but it should not be their burden to constantly endure.

For Women’s Health Month and basic human decency, we must elevate voices that truly know how much is at stake in the fight for reproductive freedoms. As exhausting as this battle may be, lives are at risk in this generation and beyond. We cannot stop until Roe v. Wade is the law of the land once again.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this or any other topic. I appreciate all the feedback we receive.

In solidarity,

Ben Cardin