Q: What is the Women’s Health Protection Act?
A: The Women’s Health Protection Act, also known as WHPA, is federal legislation that will 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, the ability to access abortion care is incredibly uneven from state to state due to hundreds of state-level restrictions on access. Nearly 500 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 five states are down to their last abortion clinic.
Q: How would it work?
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 providers and 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 will be reintroduced in the 117th Congress by lead sponsors Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) in the House and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in the Senate. During the 116th Congress, WHPA earned 260 co-sponsors, more than in any previous Congress. See all the 116th co-sponsors: House and Senate.
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, 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, waiting periods, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Q: What is the impact of these restrictions?
A: Abortion restrictions cause significant and sometimes insurmountable challenges. People seeking care must often travel long distances, take unpaid time off from work, and find and pay for child care due to state-mandated waiting periods, unnecessary repeat visits, and a lack of providers due to clinics being forced to close. In some states, they’re required to listen to misleading information. Nearly 90 percent of American counties are without a single abortion provider, and 27 cities have become “abortion deserts” because people who live there must travel 100 miles or more to reach a provider.
The Turnaway Study, the largest study on women’s experiences with abortion and unwanteed pregnancy in the U.S., found that women who are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy are more likely to experience intimate partner violence, health problems, poverty, and ongoing financial distress, including rising debt and eviction proceedings, than those who was able to access wanted abortion care.
SOURCE: CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS