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 to protect the right to access abortion care 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, though, the ability to access abortion services is incredibly uneven from state to state. More than 450 state laws restricting abortion have been enacted since 2011, and clinics providing care have been forced to close. Today, nearly 90 percent of American counties are without a single abortion provider, and six states are down to their last abortion clinic.
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 care 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, 2019, in the 116th Congress by lead sponsors Representative Judy Chu of California and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. In August, WHPA surpassed 200 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, more House co-sponsors than in any previous Congress. Since then, Representatives have continued to sign on in support. See a full list of House co-sponsors here.
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 protect against?
A: Abortion access would be protected from bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that do not apply to other similar health care procedures. These restrictions include six-week bans, 20-week bans, mandatory ultrasounds, biased counseling, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.
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.
SOURCE: CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS