For Immediate Release: Monday, February 28, 2022
Washington, DC — Today, Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked the advancement of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). This legislation would safeguard the legal right to abortion throughout the United States should Roe v. Wade fall.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response:
“Today, Republicans in the Senate doubled down on their hostility toward reproductive freedom and blocked a bill to protect the legal right to abortion. We are grateful to the Democratic leadership in the Senate for bringing this vote to the floor and to every Senator who voted in support of advancing the Women’s Health Protection Act at a moment when the future of legal abortion faces unprecedented threats.
The constitutional right to abortion that has been recognized for nearly 50 years faces an existential threat. The writing is on the wall: The Supreme Court appears poised to undo Roe in just a few short months. The Senators who voted against this legislation have the power to protect the legal right to abortion, but they have instead abdicated responsibility at a critical juncture. They made clear that they cannot be counted on to stand up for their constituents’ freedom to make their own decisions about their families and futures. Make no mistake: Voters will remember who refused to fight for their freedoms when it mattered most. The clock is ticking but this fight is not over.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) would safeguard the federal right to abortion across the country, even if Roe v. Wade fell. This legislation would provide a right for healthcare providers to provide abortion care and a corresponding right for people to receive that care, free from bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and block access. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed WHPA in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block Texas’ vigilante-enforced abortion ban (SB 8). Shortly before the House vote, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy in support of this critical legislation.
The fate of Roe v. Wade is in the hands of the anti-choice supermajority on the Supreme Court. In the next few months, the Court is expected to rule in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a case concerning Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges Roe. If the Court upholds Mississippi’s ban, it will end the constitutional right to abortion recognized by Roe, and states will take swift action to ban abortion. Should Roe fall, 28 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. Of those, 12 states already have “trigger bans” in place, which would ban abortion automatically if Roe is overturned.
Lawmakers hostile to reproductive freedom are in the midst of an assault on abortion access. Last year, over 100 restrictions on abortion access were enacted at the state level, making it the worst year for abortion rights since Roe was decided. These restrictions include Texas’ SB 8—a vigilante-enforced ban on abortion before many people know they are pregnant. This draconian ban has been in effect for more than five months, rendering the protections of Roe meaningless for tens of millions of people in the state. Lawmakers in other states are also escalating their attacks on abortion, including through a push for 15-week bans on abortion similar to the ban in question in the Jackson Women’s Health case.
The people hurt most by abortion restrictions are those who already face barriers to accessing the care they need—including women; Black, Indigenous, and people of color; those working to make ends meet; LGBTQ+ people; immigrants; young people; those living in rural communities; and people with disabilities.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.