Lawmakers in Congress have reintroduced a bill they say would ensure access to safe abortions across the country, just as abortion rights are being challenged with a strict Mississippi law that will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022.
The Women's Health Protection Act would allow for abortions in every state to happen without restrictions that aren't medically necessary. U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida, who co-introduced the bill, said unnecessary restrictions include waiting periods or having to travel a far distance to get care due to clinic shutdowns.
"These restrictions are designed to control and criminalize women and/or their [healthcare] providers," Frankel said. "They steal from women the ability to make the important, life-changing decision of if and when to start a family. And it is a violation of their rights and their basic humanity."
In a survey released in January, 68% of respondents said they believe the constitutional right to abortion should be protected. And an Institute for Women's Policy Research study noted there would be more Florida women in the workforce if restrictions were lifted. As of Tuesday, no GOP legislators are co-sponsors of the bill.
From 2007 to 2016, pregnancy-related deaths were two to three times more prevalent among Black women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Danielle Hurd-Wilson, interim deputy director of field and programs for the group Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, asserted that access to reproductive care also is an issue of racial and economic justice.
"Young people — and Black, Indigenous people of color — should be able to get abortion care free from unnecessary restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods and others that shame, stigmatize and deny us timely, confidential abortion care," said Hurd-Wilson.
In the last decade, almost 500 state laws restricting abortion have passed in legislatures around the country.
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