Urge the Senate to protect abortion access

Since 2011 , more than 600 state laws have been enacted to restrict abortion access, including mandatory waiting periods, parental consent laws, biased counseling, gestational bans, and targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. In 2022 alone, 541 abortion restrictions have been introduced across the country, with Oklahoma’s governor signing a total abortion ban into law and trigger bans that will already take effect within the month. As of now, thirteen states have already banned or severly restricted abortions. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, leaving abortion rights up to the states. As a result of these laws and the Supreme Court’s decision, patients and providers risk criminalization, hundreds of clinics have been forced to close, providers are denied the ability to provide necessary medical procedures, and patients are unable to obtain the health care services they need.

The Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R.8296), which passed the House again on July 15, 2022, would put a stop to the coordinated attacks on reproductive freedom by establishing a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion services free of restrictions and bans that delay or obstruct access to care. Urge your Senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).

Background

Since 2011, state legislatures have enacted more laws restricting abortion access than in the entire preceding decade. These restrictions and bans have rendered abortion inaccessible, unaffordable, and out of reach for millions of Americans.

Through targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, gestational bans, waiting periods that effectively require patients to make two separate trips to the clinic, and more, state governments are interfering with the ability to access abortion care on an unprecedented level.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that affirmed that everyone has autonomy over their bodies and has the right to decide whether they want to continue a pregnancy—and the fundamental right to live with autonomy, dignity, and equality.

This decision will cause irreparable harm to Americans. Overturning Roe means 26 states are likely to ban abortion including 13 states with laws that will soon or have already gone into effect. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban at issue in Dobbs, anti-abortion policymakers preemptively flooded statehouses with restrictive bills in hopes that federal protections for abortion rights would soon be gone.

Congress has the power to reinstate the federal protections outlined in Roe, nullifying state bans and restrictions on abortion. On September 24, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 1975/HR 3755), and passed it for a second time on July 15, 2022. The bill was reintroduced into the 117th Congress by Representatives Judy Chu, Lois Frankel, Ayanna Pressley, and Veronica Escobar and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin. The Women’s Health Protection Act would put a stop to the coordinated attacks on reproductive freedom by establishing a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion services free of restrictions and bans that delay or obstruct access to care.

The Women’s Health Protection Act takes crucial steps towards restoring access to abortion by creating federal protections against state restrictions such as TRAP laws and pre-viability gestational bans on the basis that such restrictions fail to protect reproductive health and intrude upon personal decision-making and moral agency.

Urge Congress to help protect abortion access from medically unnecessary bans and restrictions.

Jewish Values

Our Jewish tradition teaches that providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for all of society. It is for this reason that Maimonides listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city has to offer to its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot IV: 23).

Further, the rabbis tell us that a physician’s job is to heal, and if they withhold medical care, it is as if they have shed blood. “The Torah has granted the physician permission to heal, and it is a religious duty which comes under the rule of saving an endangered life. If he withholds treatment, he is regarded as one who sheds blood.” (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 336:1).

Regressive state laws that prevent physicians and other providers from providing health care is in direct opposition to this sacred duty.

Take action by urging your Senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.

For More Information: For more information on reproductive rights, visit the RAC’s reproductive rights page on our website or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Lillie Heyman. 

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