As the U.S. Supreme Court allows the dangerous Texas abortion ban to remain in effect and is poised to rule on a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade — the Senate is considering historic legislation that would protect our right to abortion: the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
If the Senate passes WHPA, it will help protect abortion access nationwide and provide additional tools to fight state bans like the one we've seen in Texas — no matter what the Supreme Court decides.
What the Bill Does
This critical legislation would establish a statutory right to provide and receive abortion care. If WHPA becomes federal law, it will:
protect the right to abortion throughout the United States;
make it unlawful for state politicians to ban abortion; and
guard against unnecessary state abortion restrictions.
One Step Away
The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) in September 2021, bringing us one step closer to a future where our freedom to make the decisions that shape our lives and families is protected.
People in the United States need the Senate to bring this landmark legislation to a vote now.
Attacks on Abortion Access Stand to Worsen This Year
If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that people in the United States can’t rely on courts or state legislatures to protect our right to abortion.
Those restrictions include a Texas law, S.B. 8, that banned abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy — before many people even know they’re pregnant — which went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021. It also allows people to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion and recover at least $10,000 in those lawsuits. Planned Parenthood and fellow abortion rights providers and advocates are fighting this unconstitutional law in court.
Last year’s restrictions come on top of existing restrictions that, taken together, already keep abortion out of reach for many people.
In 2022, states will once again attempt to block abortion access or ban abortion outright. Right now, 26 states are likely to end access to abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That means millions of people who can become pregnant in those states — including 36 million women — could lose abortion access there.
Congress Must Step In
While passing WHPA will not create equity in abortion access overnight, it is an essential step toward safeguarding reproductive freedom.
Without federal protections for abortion access, we’ll see more outright bans on abortion and more egregious assaults on our rights like what is happening in Texas.
Devastating Outcomes in Texas
Since Texas's Senate Bill 8, S.B. 8, went into effect on Sept. 1, stories of heartbreak, chaos and crisis have come out of Texas; people are forced to remain pregnant against their will or travel long distances to get an abortion.
Panicked patients desperately scramble to find abortion services outrside of Texas.
Abortion providers in neighboring states have struggled to meet the increased need, causing patient overflows into states farther out.
Texans travel hundreds — and even thousands — of miles outside of their home state to access safe, legal abortion. In the other states, some patients face requirements for multiple, unnecessary office visits across several days to obtain an abortion.
It has increased wait and travel times for appointments and delayed care. This has caused patients who could have received the abortion pill (which is available earlier in pregnancy) to have in-clinic procedures instead. Delayed care and increased hurdles to get an abortion also placed a huge emotional toll on patients.
Countless pregnant people in Texas who want an abortion cannot afford to travel out of state, take time off work or school, and arrange for child care and lodging — or can’t navigate the intricate web of rules and logistics to obtain an abortion.
Half the states in the country could ban abortion if Roe v. Wade falls. That means access in states near Texas could evaporate. And more states could look like Texas does today.
WHPA offers a glimmer of hope.
Negative Outcomes of Patients Denied Abortion
We can also predict what will happen without federal protections for abortion rights by looking at a study of patients turned away from accessing an abortion. The study found that:
Denying abortion to people who want it is linked to worse physical and mental health, financial instability, and debt.
Patients denied abortion were more likely than patients who got an abortion to live in poverty 6 months later and not have enough money to cover living expenses 1–5 years later.
Being denied abortion makes people more likely to stay with abusive partners and less likely to have aspirational plans for the next year.
If we want a future where people’s right to decide what to do about their pregnancies is protected, we need WHPA.
“It’s just confusing to [patients in Texas]. “What do you mean I can’t get care? Why not? Where do I go? Is there another clinic?” They’re trying to think about what their next option is, why they can’t access the care that they need, and what they are going to do next. And it’s very difficult to sit with them and say there’s no logical, sensible reason for why you can’t get the care you need — it’s just what politicians and courts or whoever making these decisions in faraway buildings have decided and what we have to comply with. It’s just simply unfair, unjust, inhumane, unethical. It violates my conscience as a physician of what I should be doing, which is taking care of my patients and providing them with safe health care.”
No Time to Waste
We are on the brink of an unprecedented emergency for abortion rights for half the states in the country. It is absolutely essential that the Senate pass the Women’s Health Protection Act without delay.
Tell your senator to support the Women's Health Protection Act NOW.