The Quickie: Big Week on Capitol Hill for Abortion Rights Advocacy
For Immediate Release: Feb. 3, 2023
Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day. You can read “The Quickie'' online here.
In today’s Quickie: abortion rights advocates make their voices known on the Hill and our weekly state fights round up.
BIG WEEK ON CAPITOL HILL FOR ABORTION RIGHTS ADVOCACY: On Tuesday, over 200 patient advocates and organizers from over 30 states took to Capitol Hill to advocate for sexual and reproductive health care with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. This was the first time in over 3 years the Action Fund organized in-person lobbying. Together, they had over 150 meetings, including member level meetings with: Senator Fetterman (D-PA), Senator Padilla (D-CA), Senator Murray (D-WA), Representative Clyburn, (D-SC), Representative Jackson (D-NC), Representative Castro (D-TX), Representative Wild (D-PA) and so many more!
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Senior Vice President Jaqueline Ayers joined Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Diana Degette (D-CO), Judy Chu (D-CA), and more in support of the reintroduction of the Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act. This bill would protect patients’ rights to travel to access abortion amidst ongoing attacks from anti-abortion politicians who want to punish people for traveling across state lines to receive essential health care.
Jacqueline Ayers speaking at the press conference
Ayers, Rep. Fletcher & NARAL’s Mini Timmaraju
Learn more about the bill here.
STATE FIGHTS ROUND UP: As we wrap up the first month of the new year, nearly 170 anti-abortion bills have already been introduced or pre-filed in states across the country. Reproductive rights champions have also continued to step up post-Dobbs, introducing about 170 proactive bills to protect and expand abortion access as well.
- On Tuesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO Act) into law, allowing it to take effect immediately. The PRO Act codifies reproductive freedom into state law ensuring all Minnesotans can make their own reproductive health care decisions, including the right to contraception, the right to fertility treatment, and the right to abortion. Minnesota is the first state to pass legislation codifying abortion rights into state law after the fall of Roe v. Wade.
- Earlier this week, all Democrats in both the North Carolina House and Senate signed on to support bills to codify Roe and Casey, showing a unified front in a state where anti-abortion rights politicians have promised to introduce new abortion restrictions this year. A ban on abortion after 20 weeks is currently in effect in the state.
- On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary held their first hearing on the Access to Abortion-care Act (SB 181), which would codify abortion rights into state law and ensure that care is protected. Its identical House counterpart (HB 88) will have a public hearing on February 15.
- Attacks on gender-affirming care continued at record pace. This morning, the West Virginia House passed a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth (HB 2007) after dozens of West Virginians, including medical professionals, spoke out against the bill in a public hearing. A gender-affirming care ban also moved in South Dakota this week, passing out of the House Health and Human Services committee on Tuesday.
- Earlier this week, Nebraska lawmakers heard testimony from their constituents who turned out in droves to speak out against a proposed six-week abortion ban. More than 200 people showed up to testify against the bill at the seven-hour hearing, including doctors, who under this bill would be stripped of their medical licenses for providing care after about six weeks or without an ultrasound. The committee will vote in the following days on whether or not to advance the ban out of committee.
- Several abortion bans are moving in both the South Carolina House and Senate. The House Judiciary subcommittee advanced a total ban (H. 3774) to the full committee this week, which will consider the bill on Feb 7. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee considered its own total ban (S. 240) yesterday, identical to the House version. And on Wednesday, lawmakers also introduced another six-week ban (S. 474) in the Senate, where it’s being fast-tracked to the floor for debate. Versions of these bans were all defeated last year during a special session, and earlier this month the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s six-week ban that briefly took effect after the fall of Roe v. Wade. The state has since asked the high court to rehear that case.
- Iowa lawmakers introduced legislation this week to ban the primary method of medication abortion, making it a felony to manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, sell, or transfer certain abortion pills in the state. Bills to restrict or eliminate medication abortion are also moving in Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming, and West Virginia. The Iowa House Health and Human Services subcommittee has also advanced an omnibus bill that funnels $2 million in taxpayer money to fund harmful anti-abortion centers. On the anti-LGBTQ front, a “don’t say trans” bill and a “forced outing” bill that would prohibit school personnel from withholding any information related to a student’s gender identity from their parents are also advancing.
- The Missouri House passed a resolution to raise the threshold for passage of citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to 60 percent. It is one of many bills in Missouri this session that would make it more difficult for citizen-initiated ballot measures to make it before voters. The resolution must pass a final time in the House before heading to the Senate. If it passes both chambers, it will go to voters in either the 2024 general election ballot or a special election called by the governor. Lawmakers have proposed similar measures in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Ohio, though Ohio’s is stalled.
- Virginia House committees held hearings on several bills this week, including a proposed defund bill, so-called “born alive” legislation, and a bill to reinstate mandatory biased counseling.
- Legislation to boost donations to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers through tax credits is also moving in Nebraska and Kansas, where bills were heard in each states’ committees.