We need federal legislation to help protect access to safe abortion across the United States.
Right now, dozens of bills that block abortion access are winding their way through state legislatures — and the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could deliver the final blow to abortion rights in America. These are clear signals that Congress must act.
Tell Your Senators:
Vote YES on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)!
For 49 years, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has protected our constitutional right to abortion nationwide. But Roe is at greater risk than it has ever been before: The Supreme Court will soon decide Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy; and the court has allowed Texas's unconstitutional six-week abortion ban to stay in effect.
I know firsthand that these radical restrictions would rob someone like me of their freedom to make their own medical decisions.
I had an abortion when I was seven weeks pregnant. So, I also know how different my life might look if I hadn't had access to abortion.
But this is about more than personal agency — it's about our basic rights and freedoms.
My family comes from El Salvador, a country where abortion is outlawed completely. With help from hospital personnel, the government even jails women for miscarriages and stillbirths. If this sounds alarming or unusual, then you are not paying attention. Overturning Roe v. Wade would take away our right to control our own body, which could lead to similar frightening scenarios.
There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to have an abortion.
At 19, I felt completely unprepared for motherhood. I knew I wanted to have an abortion before I even talked to my boyfriend. We had just moved from California to Virginia, and we were in no position financially to raise a child.
I went to my local Planned Parenthood, where I had an in-clinic abortion. I was fortunate to be in a state where I was able to access care with few barriers. I moved back home to California about a year later, and never discussed or acknowledged my abortion experience again — even going as far as lying on medical documents when asked about previous pregnancies.
I knew I made the right decision for myself, but the stigma around abortion kept me from talking about it — even to my own family. No one should have to feel that type of shame when they’re simply trying to access basic health care and take control of their futures. I now understand how crucial it is that we continue to talk about abortion and center our diverse experiences when advocating for legislation to protect our rights.
There are no exceptions to El Salvador's strict abortion laws. Is the U.S. headed toward the same fate?
During a visit to El Salvador, my family’s home country, I had a glimpse of what lack of access to reproductive health care does to families. I have cousins with children they cannot afford to care for because they never had access to family planning and adequate sex education.
One of my cousins was raped at a very young age and had to have the child because, under all circumstances, abortion is criminalized in El Salvador. In 1998, changes to the criminal code in El Salvador banned all abortion, and a 1999 constitutional amendment defined life as beginning at conception. Previously, the law allowed abortions under limited circumstances, and Salvadoran women weren’t prosecuted.
In El Salvador, harmful abortion policies became more draconian at each step: After banning most abortions, it then became easier to criminalize people who sought them — and eventually penalize even those who have miscarriages and stillbirths.
In the United States, paying attention to this type of incremental chipping away at constitutional rights is more important than ever as we brace ourselves for what could be the end of nationwide legal protections for safe, legal abortion.
From the rollback of abortion access in the states to the reshaping of the federal judiciary with judges who have records hostile to reproductive rights, we are witnessing a coordinated effort to systematically strip us of our right to abortion.
Last year, states across the country enacted a record 108 laws banning abortion and restricting access — and 2022 could be worse.
What's more, the Supreme Court made it clear that the right to legal abortion may be a thing of the past when it agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In that case, the state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and uphold the state’s unconstitutional abortion ban at 15 weeks of pregnancy. Just agreeing to hear the case was a bad sign — and during December’s oral arguments, it seemed possible that a majority of the Supreme Court might be prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Attacks on abortion rights are not slowing down. The federal government needs to act now.
Passing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) would be an important step in stopping states from enacting harmful abortion bans, like the one in Texas.
The Senate is currently considering WHPA, landmark federal legislation that will help protect abortion access nationwide and provide tools to fight state bans — no matter what happens at the Supreme Court or in state legislatures. Together, we must urge our policymakers, at all levels, to take a proactive approach and ensure that abortion care is available to everyone.