Q: What is the Women’s Health Protection Act? 

A: The Women’s Health Protection Act, also known as WHPA, is federal legislation that would establish a national standard protecting the right to access abortion throughout the United States.   

Q: Why do we need a new federal law? Isn’t the right to abortion protected under the Constitution, through the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade? 

A: The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the constitutional right to abortion, beginning with the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In practice, the ability to access  abortion services is incredibly uneven from state to state. More than 400 state laws restricting abortion have been enacted since 2011, and clinics providing care have been forced to close. As a result of these state laws, six states are currently down to a single abortion clinic for the entire state. 

Q: How would it work? What would it assure?  

A: The Women’s Health Protection Act establishes a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion services free from medically unnecessary restrictions, limitations, and bans that delay, and at times, completely obstruct, access to abortion. The Department of Justice, as well as individuals harmed by restrictions made unlawful under the Act, could go to court to enforce these rights.   

Q: What is the status of the Women’s Health Protection Act?   

A: WHPA was reintroduced on May 23 in the 116th Congress by lead sponsors Representative Judy Chu of California and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and 173 co-sponsors. Since re-introduction a growing number of Representatives have continued to sign on in support. See a full list of House co-sponsors here.

Q: Under the Women’s Health Protection Act, also known as #ActForWomen, would federal law supersede state law?  

A: Under WHPA, states would be unable to enact or enforce any law, regulation, standard, or rule that violates the protections guaranteed in the Act.  

Q: If Roe v. Wade were to fall, or be reversed by the Supreme Court, would the protections of WHPA stand? 

A: If passed into federal law, safe and legal abortion access across the country would continue to be protected under WHPA. 

Q: What kinds of state restrictions would the Women’s Health Protection Act prevent? 

A: Bans and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion that do not apply to other similar health care procedures would be unlawful under WHPA. These restrictions include 20week bans, sixweek bans, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals and that clinics must be equipped as ambulatory surgical centers. 

Q: What is the impact of these restrictions? 

A: A 2018 independent report on the safety and quality of abortion care in the United States from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that abortion in all forms and practice is safe and effective—but that the biggest threats to the quality of abortion services are state regulations that negatively impact the timeliness, efficiency, equity, and patient-centeredness of health care delivery.   

Q: Is there public support for protecting access to abortion? 

A: A 2017 poll found that nearly 7 in 10 adults in the United States (69%) support keeping Roe v. Wade and ensuring that abortion remains legal.  (This survey by the Center for Reproductive Rights was conducted by research firm GfK from June 15-26, 2017.) 

SOURCE: CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS