On Tuesday, the Act for Women Campaign alongside Planned Parenthood, National Network of Abortion Funds, and Center of Reproductive Rights, held a briefing on two bills that aim to protect the constitutional and reproductive rights of women nationwide. The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) protects abortion services against medically unnecessary restrictions, and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act will abolish restrictions on federal coverage for abortion services and promote affordability.
WHPA will be reintroduced in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and in the House by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA, Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH). Although the bill closely resembles the version introduced in the 115th Congress, this version emphasizes that abortion providers are free to implement services without medically unnecessary restrictions, limitations, or bans that hinders abortion access. The bill ensures that the protections of WHPA would remain, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Last month, EACH was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). The bill, originally introduced in 2015, would prohibit federal, state and local governments from passing laws that restrict private health insurance companies from offering abortion care, and restore abortion insurance coverage to the 28 million women who receive health insurance through the federal government and are currently denied coverage for an abortion procedure through the 1976 Hyde Amendment.
Together, the two bills have the opportunity to change abortion access across the country, where anyone can get their rightful health coverage, regardless of their zip code. Attacks on abortion access by conservative politicians have imposed extreme and harmful conditions to women seeking reproductive healthcare. Their lack, or extremely limited, access to care jeopardizes their health.
Due to the recent influx of attacks on reproductive rights like the recent Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act which aims to make abortion punishable by a death penalty, HB314 which would ban all abortions as soon as a woman is “known to be pregnant” in Alabama, or the “heartbeat bills” in states like Mississippi and Kentucky, the importance of WHPA and EACH remains prominent.
Amy Irvin, the executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, stated “The importance of the WHPA bill is not to be understated, it is desperately needed in states like Louisiana and other Southern states… the Midwest is also being decimated by pro-choice bills.”
WHPA was first introduced in 2013, and reintroduced in 2015 and 2017. The new version is set would “prohibit specific restrictions that have become increasingly common across the states but are presumptively unconstitutional” and “creates a test for future restrictions that courts would have to apply.” During the 115th Congress, the bill had 169 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 42 cosponsors in the Senate.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 4/11/19, 4/3/19, 3/21/19