Press Release

May 23, 2019
Cardin, Senate and House Democrats Introduce Federal Legislation to Guarantee Equal Access to Abortion
Legislation introduced with historic support in both chambers, with 42 co-sponsors in the Senate & 171 co-sponsors in the House

WASHINGTON – Following the recent passage of restrictive anti-choice state laws in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and Lois Frankel (FL-21) joined leading women’s health advocates to announce introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), bicameral federal legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion, everywhere. The WHPA has 42 co-sponsors in the Senate and 171 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. 

WHPA guarantees a pregnant person’s right to access an abortion—and the right of an abortion provider to deliver these abortion services—free from medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s individual choice or the provider-patient relationship.

From Roe v. Wade in 1973 to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized abortion as a constitutional right. However, anti-abortion advocates have worked for years at the state-level to pass laws meant to undermine or eliminate access to abortion care. Just in this legislative session, 34 laws that restrict and impede access to abortion have already passed in 15 states this legislative session and another 350 restrictive laws have been introduced. WHPA would stop these attacks and ensure that abortion access first guaranteed under Roe is a reality for everyone, everywhere.

A recent Politico-Morning Consult national tracking survey found that a majority of registered voters oppose the restrictive laws passed Georgia and Alabama, including 59 percent of women and 55 percent of independents. The same survey also found that 52 percent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade—including 48 percent of Republican voters.

“For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has upheld the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade, including its affirmation in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. Yet Republican leaders continue to introduce and pass laws that interfere with a women’s autonomy over her health and well-being. It is hard to understand how many Republicans are talking about getting Big Government out of people’s lives but not when it comes to one of the hardest and most intimate decisions a woman can make—a decision that she wishes to make between herself and her doctor,” said Cardin. “Women and their healthcare should not be under constant threat. From this administration’s policies, to Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, to Governors and legislators in States like Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri under Republican leadership—they are denying women their constitutional right to make their own personal and healthcare decisions.”

“As extremist lawmakers viciously attack women’s reproductive rights in statehouses across the nation, the Women’s Health Protection Act has never been more urgent or more necessary. These demagogic and draconian laws hurt women and families as they make personal and difficult medical decisions. This issue is about more than women’s health care, it’s about human rights—all our rights,” said Blumenthal. “The Women’s Health Protection Act will ensure women have access to safe and legal abortions, regardless of their zipcode. It reaffirms what the Supreme Court and a majority of Americans have declared: Women have a constitutional right to control their own body and make their own choices, without abhorrent political overreach that has no basis is medical science or the Constitution.”

Right now in states across this country, Roe v. Wade is under attack and millions of women are at risk of losing the freedom to make their own personal health decisions,” said Baldwin. “It is past time to stand up to these extreme threats to women’s constitutionally protected reproductive rights, which is why I’m championing the Women’s Health Protection Act. Every woman, regardless of where she lives, deserves the freedom to make her own, personal decisions about her health care, her family and her body.”

The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

The bill is co-sponsored in the House by U.S. Representatives Alma Adams, Pete Aguilar, Colin Allred, Nanette Barragan, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Brendan Boyle, Anthony Brown, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, G.K. Butterfield, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cardenas, Andre Carson, Ed Case, Sean Casten, Kathy Castor, David Cicilline, Gil Cisneros, Katherine Clark, William Lacy Clay, Steve Cohen, Gerry Connolly, Jim Cooper, TJ Cox, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Elijah Cummings, Susan Davis, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Dianna DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Antonio Delgado, Val Demmings, Mark DeSaulnier, Ted Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Eliot Engel, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Lizzie Fletcher, Bill Foster, Lois Frankel, Marcia Fudge, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jesus Garcia, Sylvia Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Al Green, Raul Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Alcee Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Denny Heck, Brian Higgins, Katie Hill, Jim Himes, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Steven Horsford, Chrissy Houlahan, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marci Kaptur, Robin Kelly, Joe Kennedy, Ro Khanna, Derek Kilmer, Ron Kind, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ann M. Kuster, Rick Larsen, Brenda Lawrence, Al Lawson Jr., Barbara Lee, Susie Lee, Andy Levin, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Alan S. Lowenthal, Nita Lowey, Ben Ray Lujan, Carolyn B. Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Doris Matsui, Lucy McBath, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Joseph D. Morelle, Gwen Moore, Seth Moulton, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Joseph Neguse, Tom O’Halleran, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jimmy Panetta, Cris Pappas, Donald M. Payne, Ed Perlmutter, Scott H. Peters, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, David Price, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen Rice, Cedric Richmond, Harley Rouda, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Linda T. Sanchez, John P. Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Janice D. Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Bradley Scott Schneider, Kurt Schrader, Kim Schrier, Bobby Scott, David Scott, Jose E. Serrano, Terri A. Sewell, Donna Shalala, Brad Sherman, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Jackie Speier, Thomas R. Suozzi, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Bennie Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velasquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Jennifer Wexton, Susan Wild, Frederica Wilson, and John Yarmuth..

WHPA is also endorsed by leading women’s health and civil rights organizations, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the ACLU.

“With an alarming number of states enacting abortion bans and President Trump’s pledge to overturn Roe, we’re taking nothing for granted,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Women’s Health Protection Act will ensure that a woman’s ability to access abortion care does not depend on her zip code, and we will work tirelessly to guarantee that in law.”

“Let’s be clear: abortion care is still legal in all 50 states and Planned Parenthood will continue to lead the charge to keep it that way—no matter what. We applaud this new effort by our champions in Congress to keep politicians from interfering in patient’s personal health decisions and to protect our rights to access to health care, including safe, legal abortion,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “As a doctor, I am focused on ensuring the health and well-being of women and families. The Women’s Health Protection Act will be a critical effort to help protect people across our country from this unprecedented attack on our rights and freedoms.”

“Anti-choice Republicans have launched an all-out assault on reproductive freedom, mercilessly chipping away at our rights and stripping access to abortion through everything from unnecessary regulations all the way to total bans on abortion. And it’s women and families who are paying the price,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue. “We, the seven in 10 Americans who support abortion access, say ‘no more.’ It’s time for legislation that takes reproductive freedom seriously—and that’s the Women’s Health Protection Act. NARAL applauds this legislation for restoring dignity to women’s healthcare and sending a clear message that our reproductive freedom is not up for debate.”

“In a moment where states across the country are passing reckless, dangerous abortion bans, it is essential that our elected representatives in Washington take action,” said ACLU National Director Ronald Newman. “That is why the ACLU is proud to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would stop state legislatures from instituting a range of restrictions on abortion that cut off access to care. As we fight for abortion to remain legal, we must also fight for abortion to remain accessible. People’s lives depend on it.”

The full text of the Senate bill is available here.