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June 22, 2023

Ahead of Dobbs Anniversary, Pressley, Colleagues, Advocates Unveil Abortion Justice Act

Historic, Intersectional Legislation Removes Systemic Barriers to Abortion Care, Affirms Access Regardless of Zip Code, Income, Immigration Status or Background

Bill Text | Bill Summary | Press Conference Video | Photos

WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the devastating Dobbs decision, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’ Abortion Rights and Access Taskforce, introduced the Abortion Justice Act, sweeping, intersectional legislation to address access to abortion care and put forth a comprehensive vision of a just America where abortion care is readily available—without stigma, shame or systemic barriers—for all who seek it, regardless of zip code, immigration status, income, or background. Congresswoman Pressley is introducing the historic legislation alongside Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Congressman Maxwell Frost (FL-10) and a broad coalition of reproductive health advocates.

The lawmakers and advocates unveiled the bill at a Capitol Hill press conference earlier today. Full video of the press conference is available here and high-resolution photos are available here.

“In a truly just America, everyone is free to make decisions about their lives, their bodies, and their futures with dignity – including the decision to pursue abortion care without fear, shame, or systemic barriers. Abortion care is health care and a fundamental human right, but access to this right has been stripped away from far too many, exacerbating many of the inequities and disparities that harm our most vulnerable,” said Rep. Pressley. “Our Abortion Justice Act builds the infrastructure necessary to systematically expand access to care, and I am thankful for my colleagues and our advocates for their close partnership on this bill. A just America is possible, and I look forward to the day where our bodily autonomy is our own.”

“It is estimated that over 36 million Americans are living in states that have or are likely to ban abortion. The Abortion Justice Act is a comprehensive vision for our country in which all people can access the healthcare they need without barriers, stigma, or politicians trying to control them,” said Rep. Escobar. “I am proud to stand with my Pro-Choice colleagues and continue the fight for reproductive justice for all.”

“We are in the fight of our lives to restore our reproductive freedoms that have been ripped away by an extremist, out-of-touch Supreme Court and extreme MAGA Republicans. But we must go further, we must eliminate the systemic barriers marginalized communities face while seeking the abortion care they need,” said Rep. Williams. “While working for Planned Parenthood, I saw these barriers and the great sacrifices patients made in attempts to overcome them–and this was before the Dobbs decision. I am co-leading the Abortion Justice Act because codifying the right to abortion is only the floor: it is time to ensure abortion is accessible and affordable for all who need it–no matter their ZIP code, no matter their bank account.”

“People exercising their right to make decisions about having an abortion should be legally protected and respected,” said Rep. Bush. “That is why I am proud to join my sister-in-service, Congresswoman Pressley, in introducing the Abortion Justice Act. This comprehensive legislation will ensure federally protected access to safe and affordable abortion services and reproductive health care. Legislation like the Abortion Justice Act is essential to protecting our fundamental right to reproductive freedom.”

“The right to an abortion is under attack across the nation and particularly in my home state of Florida, where we have seen one of the strictest abortion bans signed into law by a governor and legislature hell-bent on stripping people of their right to choose,” said Rep. Frost. “Abortion care is healthcare. The Abortion Justice Act is a critical step in ensuring and protecting the reproductive health of millions of Americans into law.”

The Abortion Justice Act is a comprehensive bill that:

  • Calls for necessary federal investments in abortion care, including training, research, outreach, doula care, and innovation;
  • Requires insurance coverage include abortion care;
  • Protects patients and providers from criminalization;
  • Affirms a legal right to abortion and miscarriage care;
  • Removes systemic barriers to care including for immigrant families; and
  • Addresses disparities and systemic racism in the healthcare system.

A copy of the bill text can be found here and a summary of the bill can be found here. Footage from the press conference can be found here, and photos are here.

“Women of color have been leading the way towards more equitable access to abortion care for decades, so that we all have the freedom to control our own bodies, lives, and futures. The Abortion Justice Act, led by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, is a prime example of that leadership in action,” said Morgan Hopkins, President of All* Above All. “We’re done settling. With this groundbreaking bill, we’re creating a new vision for a bold future where abortion care is there for anyone who needs it without politicians standing in the way.”

“When they answer calls day after day to help people pay for and navigate the mounting logistical obstacles to access abortions, abortion funds and practical support organizations know firsthand the harmful and negative impact of abortion bans,” said Oriaku Njoku, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds and All* Above All steering committee member. “Abortion funds and practical support organizations embody abortion justice by leading with compassion as an antidote to the anti-abortion shame and judgment people seeking abortions experience elsewhere. The Abortion Justice Act would bolster their work while protecting them from criminalization, ensuring that they are to move past partisan politics by continuing to put people’s real life needs first.”

“Comprehensive medical education requires access to abortion and family planning training. This is an urgent public health concern threatening the medical profession and the human rights of pregnant people. Medical Students for Choice supports the Abortion Justice Act because future physicians and their patients deserve abortion justice protected in federal law,” said Pamela Merritt, Executive Director of Medical Students for Choice.

“I’ve always been the go-to person to support people in my life that have had abortions. I’ve witnessed them face barriers like inability to pay for an abortion, traveling over an hour on the train to get to an appointment, delays in care, and having to hear protesters on the way to the clinic,” said Faith Daniel, Project Manager at Community Catalyst and Activist Leader at Latina Institute NY. “My wish is for anyone seeking an abortion to be able to access affordable services without any barriers to care.”

“A few months after I used my private insurance to pay for my abortion in New York City, I received a bill for hundreds of dollars and I discovered my insurance only covered abortions considered ‘medically necessary.’ No one should be denied insurance coverage of abortion just because of our circumstances or how we get our insurance. I support the Abortion Justice Act because it will ensure cost is not a barrier to accessing care,” said Lizzie Chadbourne, Youth Abortion Support Collective Member at Advocates for Youth.

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 May 2023, Rep. Pressley, along with Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Ami Bera, MD (CA-06) and Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), reintroduced their bicameral Affordability is Access Act to ensure that once the FDA determines an over-the-counter birth control option to be safe, insurers fully cover over-the-counter birth control without any fees or out-of-pocket costs.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.