The Women’s Health Protection Act is a crucial step toward protecting access for safe, legal, essential reproductive health care and the constitutional rights of every woman in the U.S.—no matter where she lives. This federal legislation would invalidate laws that single out abortion providers with medically unnecessary requirements and restrictions, do not promote women’s health or safety, and limit access to abortion services. This report presents a compelling argument for WHPA and includes research about the impact of abortion restrictions along with the stories of those affected.
No matter their personal beliefs, most Americans believe abortion should be legal and would support Congress passing a new federal law to protect women’s access to care, according to a poll released by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The survey found that 6 in 10 adults (61 percent) would support a federal law like the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would safeguard abortion care and prevent restrictions that put access increasingly out of reach.
The survey of 1,877 voting-age adults in the United States sought to gauge attitudes towards women’s health as Congress debates stripping away reproductive care and state legislatures continue to pass hundreds of restrictions limiting access to services. An overwhelming 87 percent of those surveyed want Congress to share their values on women’s health issues. The survey also finds that 8 in 10 adults (81 percent) want their representatives to be more vocal in support of these issues.
On April 3, Jewish Women International and the Young Women’s Leadership Network brought together 100 young leaders, from high school students to young professional women and from across the United States, on Capitol Hill. They met with members of Congress about support for the Women’s Health Protection Act and other issues that matter most to them, such as fair pay.
On April 20, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health–VA Latina Advocacy Network hosted an Act for Women Town Hall with Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8). Called the State of Reproductive Health Talk Back, the event featured a community panel addressing the barriers Virginia women face in obtaining abortion care.
Panelists included Tarina Keene of NARAL–VA, Mara Kaiser of Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington, D.C., Kat Olivera from Falls Church Healthcare Center, plus representatives from NLIRH. Staffers from Sen. Tim Kaine, Rep. Gerry Connolly, and Sen. Mark Warner also attended. Dialogue focused on the impact of abortion restrictions in Virginia and the decline of clinics and access. It was an opportunity for the community’s concerns to be heard and to affirm the need for the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Exactly one year after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the most significant reproductive rights case in decades—Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal was joined by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu, Marcia Fudge, and Lois Frankel in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act on March 2.
2,550 Coloradans join tele-town hall to discuss reproductive rights
On August 23, 2016, Act for Women state partners NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) held a tele-town hall to discuss the state of reproductive rights at the federal and state levels. Speakers included the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus Chair Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Andrea Ferrigno of Whole Woman’s Health, and staff from the host organizations and the Center for Reproductive Rights. More than 2,550 Coloradans joined the call to discuss the Whole Woman’s Health case, the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the EACH Woman Act.
Terry O’Neill is the president of the National Organization for Women, which is a partner of the Act for Women campaign. Any views expressed regarding a candidate for elected office are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Act for Women Campaign, a nonpartisan entity.
I’ve had time to digest the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and while it was a victory for women, it may be premature to call this the turning point in the struggle for abortion rights.
By striking down Texas’s infamous law HB2, which imposed admitting privileges requirements and surgical-center construction mandates on abortion clinics, the court helped expose targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws for what they are: medically unnecessary regulations designed to be so burdensome that abortion clinics will be forced to close.
As Justice Ginsburg wrote, “In truth, complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous.”
For me, the key part of the decision is its unwavering focus on women’s health.
Read more at the Huffington Post.
On May 11 and 12, 139 advocates from around the country came together in Washington, D.C., to promote the Women’s Health Protection Act. Below, three of our attendees share their stories: a faith leader from Tennessee, an activist from Texas, and a medical student from Massachusetts.
Name: Rev. Faye London
Home State: Tennessee
I was ambivalent about wearing my stole as we approached the capitol. I wanted my group to be taken seriously as we entered offices to talk about the Women’s Health Protection Act. After some wrestling and at the urging of others in my group, I donned my symbol of religious leadership and marched into our first meeting uncertain what level of authority or expertise might be expected as a result of the bright red, highly visible “accessory.” As our group of advocates opened up to legislators about the needs of women and the imperative that we do what we can to stop the attacks on abortion access, the authority that I had assigned to the piece of fabric around my neck revealed itself as present in the truth and power of our little group as a unit. No, we were not all religious people, nor were we operating under any particular religious authority. We were, however, all there in one spirit. In the end, my little stole added its voice to the beautiful symphony to remind legislators that women of faith need unimpeded access to full spectrum reproductive health care including abortion just like all other women and that we’re ready to stand up and demand it. The WHPA advocacy day experience served as a reminder that as a faith leader, it is my job to lift my voice for justice.
Name: Lidiana Ramirez
Organization: Texas Latina Advocacy Network of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Home State: Texas
Traveling to D.C. to meet with my congressman was a powerful experience. For many Latin@s in the Rio Grande Valley, our voices are often forgotten or fall on deaf ears, especially when it comes to issues that affect our reproductive health and decisions. Organizing in our city focuses on building power and claiming our seat at the table, but the Act for Women Advocacy Day allowed us to exercise that power in a new way that resulted in real impact: Representatives Castro and Vela became cosponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act. We look forward to continued efforts in support of both the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Women Act, which would help thousands of Latin@s in Texas and across the country.
Name: Liza Brecher
Organization: Medical Students for Choice
Home State: Massachusetts
When I decided to go to medical school I never imagined that I would have to fight to ensure that I could legally practice medicine how I want to. But I will do so to ensure that women have access to full healthcare. The passion that drives Medical Students for Choice to spend our free time learning the abortion and contraception content that often gets left out of our medical curriculum is the same kind of energy that legislators need to hear from the medical community. Before participating in the advocacy day, I didn’t understand just how much sway I have as a future health care professional. In school and clinic we often see our white coats as something that can make patients anxious or fearful, but on the Hill, my white coat communicated authority that allowed me to more effectively promote the Women’s Health Protection Act. As a student at Tufts University I have more time and freedom to pursue abortion-related activism, and I am excited to continue to do so with Medical Students for Choice.
On May 11 and 12, almost 150 advocates from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Act for Women Advocacy Day in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act. Thanks to all who took time out of their busy schedules to speak out for women’s access to safe, legal abortion care, both in person and on social media.
The following originally appeared on the Center for Reproductive Rights website.
“There are women languishing around the country who cannot speak for themselves. Women who’ve had services closed in their face. Poor women. College women. Hispanic women,” Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee told an energized and diverse crowd of reproductive health advocates who gathered on Capitol Hill last week. “How dare someone say to these women, whose rights should be equal to everyone, ‘You cannot have access to health services.’”
Approximately 140 state and federal advocates, faith leaders, health practitioners, and clinic workers congregated in Washington, DC, on May 11 and 12 to advocate for the Women’s Health Protection Act. They’re all part of the Act for Women campaign, which provides unified support for this federal legislation that would prohibit states from imposing restrictions that limit women’s access to safe and legal abortion services.
The following was written by Karen Middleton (Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, which is a state partner of the Act for Women campaign) and appeared in the Huffington Post.
As a former Member of the Colorado House of Representatives from Aurora, it was my distinct honor to accompany Colorado’s Speaker of the House, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, onto the floor for the 2016 General Assembly Opening Day in January. And she made her priorities very clear in her Opening Day speech:
“Ideologues and opportunists will try to impose their views on the woman who isn’t ready to have a family. They will try to rob her of the choice to make her own private medical decisions.
We will defeat these ideologues and opportunists.”
And we did.
Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (an Act for Women campaign member), recently published the following op-ed.
What if a state passes a law that shuts down all abortion clinics within 150 miles of hundreds of thousands of women because the corridors were not the same width as a hospital with 100 beds? Would that be fair? How about 250 miles? 500 miles? Where would you draw the line?
What if you had to drive 400 miles to see an abortion provider and then wait another day for the procedure — and not for any medically necessary reason? Another 2 days? Would being forced to miss two or three days of work for a procedure that takes less than an hour seem right to you? How about having to prove when you last had your period and when you last had sex to be sure the fetus was less than 20 weeks old? (And how exactly would you prove that?)