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March 30, 2023

Pressley, Chu, Frankel, Escobar Lead 204 Colleagues to Introduce Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023

Legislation Codifies Roe v. Wade, Creates National Right to Access & Provide Abortion Care

Bill Text | Press Conference

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Chair of the Pro Choice Caucus’ Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-29), Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-22), and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led 204 of their House colleagues to introduce H.R. 12, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 (WHPA). This comprehensive legislation safeguards abortion rights and personal decision-making for everyone who calls America home after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

With the Supreme Court’s extreme decision last summer in Dobbs v. Jackson in place, abortion care is now wholly inaccessible in 14 states—with over a fifth of the American public now living in areas without this essential health care. These attacks on reproductive health care continue, with anti-abortion Republican lawmakers at the federal level pushing for a nationwide ban and at the state level pushing for new laws to arrest doctors, punish women seeking abortion care and those who help them, and criminalize interstate travel to obtain abortion care.

WHPA responds to this ongoing public health emergency by creating a federal statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care—free from bans and restrictions that impede access. The legislation would also protect the ability to travel out of state for abortion care. WHPA is bicameral legislation, with a companion bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with 47 other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“As we navigate a post-Dobbs world and continue to face relentless attacks on our freedom and bodily autonomy, let me make it plain: abortion care is routine medical care and a fundamental human right,” said Rep. Pressley, Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Task Force. “The Women’s Health Protection Act is necessary legislation that meets the moment, and I am grateful to my colleagues and our advocates for their partnership on this bill to restore, protect, and expand abortion care in America. We must act with urgency, abolish the Jim Crow filibuster, and enshrine the right to abortion care into federal law, once and for all.”

“Every person—no matter their circumstances or how or where they became pregnant—deserves dignity, safety, and care in seeking an abortion. But last summer, in an instant, an extremist Supreme Court ripped away the bodily autonomy of half the American population,” said Rep. Chu. “The Women’s Health Protection Act fights back by creating a federal right to abortion care, free from state-level abortion bans that chip away at reproductive freedom, and by moving us toward a nation of true equality.”

“My, my, my. With Republicans attacking reproductive rights from every angle, it has never been more important to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act,” said Rep. Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “This legislation creates a new legal protection for the right to provide and access abortion care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans. We’re pushing to pass this legislation because we trust women to control their own bodies. It should be up to women—not politicians, not judges, not companies like Walgreens—to make the very personal decisions of when or whether to start or grow a family.”

“We have very clearly seen Republicans’ dark vision for America, and in the face of the constant threat to our fundamental rights, House Democrats have acted. Today, we continue the fight to ensure every person has the freedom to make personal decisions with those they love and trust without politicians trying to control them. Texas has seen firsthand the deadly consequences of when Republicans impose draconian abortion bans,” said Rep. Escobar. “I am proud, once again, to join my Democratic colleagues in declaring that abortion is healthcare and calling for the Women’s Health Protection Act to be brought to the House floor with the urgency this moment requires.”

“In the wake of the radical, right-wing Supreme Court Majority’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, extreme MAGA Republicans have made clear that they’re going to do everything they can to enact a nationwide abortion ban and impose government-mandated pregnancies,” said Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. “House Democrats will not let that happen. The Women’s Health Protection Act will defend every American’s right to reproductive freedom and we will not rest until we get this bill over the finish line.” 

“MAGA Republicans have deserted one of America’s most basic values: freedom. They are eroding women’s rights, enforcing state-mandated pregnancy, and advocating for a national abortion ban,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. “Spearheaded by Congresswoman Judy Chu, House Democrats are fighting back with the Women’s Health Protection Act. We stand with the American people, with women, and for reproductive justice—today and every day.”

“Abortion care is health care—and the only way to ensure that every woman in this country has access to the care they need is by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act and getting it signed into law as soon as possible,” said Rep. DeGette, Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chair. “We cannot—and will not—sit idly by and allow the GOP to roll back the clock on women’s rights in this country. Today, tomorrow, and every day, the Pro-Choice Caucus will be working to not only restore the protections we had under Roe v. Wade, but also to expand them so everyone has a right to access the reproductive care they need.”

“Congress can restore what the Supreme Court has broken. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, women and pregnant people are being denied the care they need across the country. We are in the midst of a public health crisis that will only get worse,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish a nationwide right to abortion—something the strong majority of Americans have shown they support, time and again. This bill has never been more necessary than it is today, and the addition of new provisions will protect the right to travel across state lines to seek care and protect people who assist others in securing abortion care. The time to pass WHPA is now.”

“We applaud the abortion-positive leaders in the House for their continued support and commitment to defending and restoring abortion access. The Women’s Health Protection Act is a critical element in our broader fight to end abortion bans and attain the access we deserve. Today, we are one step closer to realizing our full vision for reproductive justice, one where free, fair, and just abortion access is a reality for all, as well as the right to have and raise children with safety and dignity,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. “Even as we celebrate the introduction of this bill, we must acknowledge the ongoing human rights crisis of abortion bans and the criminalization of abortion seekers and helpers. Our people are hurting, and we can and must do more. We will not stop fighting until everyone has access to the reproductive health care they deserve.”

Click here for the legislative text for the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023.

Click here to watch the introduction press conference.

In her time serving in Congress, Congresswoman Pressley has fought persistently to protect fundamental reproductive and sexual health care rights. 

  • Rep. Pressley is a lead co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), bicameral federal legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion care, everywhere. 
  • Rep. Pressley is also a lead co-sponsor of the EACH Act, bold legislation to repeal the Hyde Amendment and help guarantee abortion coverage—regardless of how a patient gets their health insurance.
  • Shortly before the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Rep. Pressley led a group of her Black women colleagues in writing to President Biden urging him to declare a public health emergency amid the unprecedented threats to abortion rights nationwide. 
  • Rep. Pressley condemned the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade., and implored the Senate to protect abortion rights and slammed the white supremacist roots of anti-abortion efforts.
  • In September 2021, Rep. Pressley issued a statement condemning the Supreme Court’s inaction on SB-8, Texas’ restrictive abortion law. Later that month, she participated in a House Oversight Committee hearing to examine the threat posed by abortion bans and underscored the urgency of the Senate passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. 
  • In April 2021, Rep. Pressley, along with Congresswomen Barbara Lee (CA-13), Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), led a group of 131 Democratic members in reintroducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act or the EACH Act, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure that all people, regardless of income, insurance or zip code, can make personal reproductive health care decisions without interference from politicians. She re-Introduced the legislation In January 2023.
  • Rep. Pressley has led calls in Congress for the FDA to remove medically unnecessary restrictions on the medication abortion drug mifepristone, and applauded the FDA’s action in January 2023 to allow retail pharmacies to dispense abortion medication pills.
  • In March 2023, Rep. Pressley delivered a speech in which she discussed the pending court case in Texas, which aims to restrict access to medication abortion across the entire nation. In her remarks, Rep. Pressley affirmed medication abortion as routine medical care, and accessibility to the abortion pill mifepristone as essential.
  • As Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, Congresswoman Pressley has led the fight to repeal the Hyde Amendments from annual Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bills and in July 2020 published a Medium post on the importance of doing so. She applauded the removal of the Hyde Amendment in President Biden’s FY2022 budget.
  • In March 2023, Rep. Pressley, along with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Reps. Schakowsky, Lee, DeGette, Torres and Strickland, reintroduced the Abortion is Healthcare Everywhere Act harmful and discriminatory Helms Amendment and expand abortion access globally.
  • In March 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Hirono led their colleagues in reintroducing a bicameral congressional resolution honoring abortion providers and clinic staff. 
  • In May 2020, she led more than 155 Members of Congress in calling on House Democratic leadership to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief packages rejected Republican efforts to use the public health crisis to diminish abortion access.
  • In August 2021 Rep. Pressley, Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, and Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Diana DeGette and Barbara Lee led more than 70 of their House Democratic colleagues in introducing a resolution in support of equitable, science-based policies governing access to medication abortion care. 
  • In January 2023, Rep. Pressley introduced a resolution to condemn all forms of political violence in the U.S., regardless of its target or intent. That same day, she delivered a powerful speech on the House floor slamming Republicans’ harmful, misleading anti-abortion resolution.
  • In September 2022, Rep. Pressley hosted U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester for a convening on their work to address the Black maternal health crisis and the criminalization of abortion care in states across the nation following the harmful U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health
  • In May 2019, she led more than 100 colleagues in introducing H.Con.Res.40, a resolution reaffirming the House of Representative’s support for Roe v. Wade.
  • In June 2019, Rep. Pressley introduced H.R. 3296, the Affordability is Access Act, to make oral contraception available without a prescription. 
  • In September 2016, as a member of the Boston City Council, Pressley championed a resolution calling on Congress and President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and reinstate insurance coverage for abortion services.