It is the fundamental right of every person to choose if, when, and with whom to have a child. Ever since the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, however, this essential right has been under attack from legislators and courts that think they should be able to regulate and limit women’s bodily autonomy. Recent laws, like that in enacted in Alabama in 2019, have gotten even bolder: banning abortion in all almost all cases, without exceptions for rape and incest, and with heavy criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions. The intent of this and other laws like it is to provoke a renewed challenge to Roe v. Wade itself. We must fight back against these attacks on reproductive freedom. In Congress, I will always be an ally for choice and fight for reproductive justice.
Reproductive rights are the cornerstone of a just society. I support the Women’s Health Protection Act to create federal statutes that parallel the constitutional rights guaranteed by Roe and preempt the patchwork of state laws that seek to restrict and ultimately control women’s reproductive choices. Without this law, too many people are effectively denied the right to an abortion. Restrictive state laws close down clinics for medically unnecessary reasons, ban abortions beyond short windows of time early in pregnancy, and make the costs of obtaining an abortion prohibitive. Some states have sought to reduce abortions and shame those who seek them by forcing patients to undergo invasive and medically unnecessary procedures, like forced ultrasounds. In many cases, healthcare providers and insurers are permitted to refuse care and coverage, and even referrals for care for abortion services. Congress must use its power to stop these attacks on reproductive freedom.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is necessary not just to enforce the individual right to privacy, but also to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection before the law. The fact of the matter is, abortion and all reproductive services have been and will always be accessible to the wealthy. The patchwork of restrictive state laws makes it harder and often impossible for low-income women, women of color, young women, and women living in rural areas and healthcare deserts to access abortion. This is a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee to equal protection under the laws. We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to preempt state laws that force women to travel hundreds of miles—often out of state—and endure expensive and medically unnecessary procedures and waiting periods only to have to pay out of pocket for essential healthcare services. We must also repeal the Hyde Amendment which blocks federal dollars from being used to pay for abortion-related services, making it harder for those on Medicaid or receiving healthcare through the Veterans Administration or the Indian Health Service to access vital reproductive healthcare.
Reproductive justice also requires expanding Title X family planning funding and repealing the harmful Trump Administration’s physical separation and gag rules. Clinics that receive federal Title X funding provide crucial reproductive health and family planning services to low-income individuals and their families who have less access to traditional healthcare. Title X is not just a necessary investment, it is a good investment: every taxpayer dollar invested in Title X clinics saves $7 in taxpayer money.
The Hyde Amendment already bans clinics that receive Title X funding from using those funds for abortion care, but the Trump Administration has taken the attacks on reproductive freedom even farther. The Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump Administration implemented a “gag rule” that prevents providers at clinics receiving Title X funds from counseling about abortion care or referring patients for abortions, even when requested by the patient. Not only does this rule make it harder to access abortion services, it also makes it harder to access accurate health information. We must insist on the right to accessible and comprehensive reproductive health services.
The Trump Administration also implemented a rule requiring “physical separation” of abortion providers from clinics that receive Title X funding. This was largely an attack on Planned Parenthood, some of whose clinics receive Title X funding and provide abortion services, even though the Title X funding is not used for those services. Both of these rules make it harder to access vital healthcare, and I will fight to ensure that both are repealed.
In addition to the domestic gag rule on Title X, the Trump Administration reinstated the so-called global gag rule to prevent organizations that receive U.S. aid from providing abortion services, information about abortion services, or referrals for abortion services. This rule forces healthcare providers who provide a wide range of health services, including contraception, treatment of HIV/AIDS, and women and children’s healthcare, to choose between vital financial assistance and providing comprehensive care. We must repeal this harmful rule and make sure that we stand as fierce advocates for global reproductive freedom.
Reproductive freedom must also include making sure that individuals that choose to have children are supported in those choices. This is why I will work to combat pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. We must ensure that pregnant people are provided with reasonable accommodations to allow them to continue working. No one should have to choose between starting a family and keeping their job.
Reproductive freedom is fundamental to achieving equality for women and LGBTQ+ people. I will always fight to protect choice and expand access to reproductive health services both here and around the world.