Reps. Pressley, Escobar, Lee, & Schakowsky lead More Than 150 Colleagues in Rejecting Attacks on Essential Reproductive Healthcare During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 7, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Chair of Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Chair of Pro-Choice Caucus’s Providers and Clinics Task Force, led more than 155 of their colleagues in calling on House Democratic leadership to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief packages reject Republican efforts to diminish access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

“As proud members of the first pro-choice majority in the House of Representatives, we unequivocally oppose efforts to roll back access to reproductive health services, including abortion, and underscore the role that these essential services continue to play in the time of a global pandemic,” write the lawmakers. “While we are grateful for your leadership and work standing against attempts to further restrict abortion access in COVID-19 relief packages, it is critical that we continue to fight to ensure that any future relief packages reject Republican efforts to diminish access to comprehensive reproductive health care. We must ensure that all communities are able to seek the essential and time-sensitive services they need during these difficult times.”

In previous COVID-19 relief packages, Senate Republicans have included discriminatory Hyde Amendment-like restrictions on abortion access, which disproportionately harm low-income people and people of color.  Across the nation, Republican anti-choice lawmakers have attempted to use the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to restrict access to abortion and reproductive healthcare.

“As Congress continues to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we must reject any further provisions that harm access to abortion care, restrict abortion coverage, or contribute to clinics shutting their doors,” the lawmakers continue. “These restrictions on abortion access will only further exacerbate the impact this pandemic is already placing on our most vulnerable communities. We must reject any and all efforts to undermine comprehensive reproductive health care access.”

In addition to Reps. Pressley, Escobar, Lee, and Schakowsky the letter is also signed by Representatives A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX), Al Lawson (D-FL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC), Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Andy Levin (D-MI), Angie Craig (D-MN), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Bill Foster (D-IL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Bradley S. Schneider (D-IL), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Colin Z. Allred (D-TX), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), David Price (D-NC), David Scott (D-GA), David Trone (D-MD), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Denny Heck (D-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Dina Titus (D-NV), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Donna E. Shalala (D-FL), Doris O. Matsui (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL), Jim Himes (D-CT), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), John B. Larson (D-CT), John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), John Yarmuth (D-KY), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Josh Harder (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Katie Porter (D-CA), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Max Rose (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Sharice L. Davids (D-KS), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Thomas R Suozzi (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

 

The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                                

Speaker                                                                                 

US House of Representatives                                                            

Washington, D.C. 20510 

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

We write to express our incredible frustration as the Trump Administration, Congressional Republicans and anti-abortion state politicians continue to use this unprecedented public health crisis to restrict comprehensive reproductive health services. As proud members of the first pro-choice majority in the House of Representatives, we unequivocally oppose efforts to roll back access to reproductive health services, including abortion, and underscore the role that these essential services continue to play in this global pandemic. While we are grateful for your leadership and work standing against attempts to further restrict abortion access in COVID-19 relief packages, it is critical that we continue to fight to ensure that any future relief packages reject Republican efforts to diminish access to comprehensive reproductive health care. We must ensure that all communities are able to seek the essential and time-sensitive services they need during these difficult times.

History tells us that whenever anti-abortion politicians are able to maliciously insert harmful restrictions on comprehensive reproductive health care like abortion care, they undermine access to essential care and stigmatize those in need of abortion services. We know that these restrictions disproportionately impact people with low incomes, Black, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Native individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants and individuals with disabilities and those living at the intersections of those identities. Nobody should be denied reproductive health care simply because of who they are, where they live, their economic status, or source of insurance.

Despite the unprecedented crisis before our nation, Senate Republicans insisted on expanding the reach of the Hyde amendment in the CARES Act in an effort to punish and shame pregnant people seeking abortion care. These efforts exacerbate increased challenges for our communities as multiple states have attempted to deny access to essential, time-sensitive abortion services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the same states that have been trying for decades to end abortion have now tried to exploit a crisis in an attempt to violate our constitutional rights, including Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma. Banning abortion during the pandemic leads to increased costs for travel, navigating various state restrictions, and increased waiting time. These bans are designed to punish and shame people seeking abortion care and can prevent people getting care altogether.

These attacks are devastating enough in a vacuum, but instead come on the heels of three years of sustained and relentless attacks by this administration on domestic and global providers of reproductive and sexual health care and the patients they serve. From decimating the essential Title X network, to discriminating against providers and organizations because they provide or advocate for abortion care, to gutting insurance coverage of abortion - these attacks have meant that it is always the person who needs the care that suffers. Family planning, sexual health services, and abortion are time-sensitive, essential health care. To take a global pandemic as an opportunity to make it even harder for families with low incomes to access the care they need is disgraceful.

As Congress continues to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we must reject any further provisions that harm access to abortion care, restrict abortion coverage, or contribute to clinics shutting their doors. These restrictions on abortion access will only further exacerbate the impact this pandemic is already placing on our most vulnerable communities. We must reject any and all efforts to undermine comprehensive reproductive health care access.

We appreciate your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

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