More than 150 Republicans voted to shut down the federal government rather than allow women to access lifesaving preventive care through Planned Parenthood. It’s inexcusable.
FORTY-THREE years ago today, the Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to decide whether and when to have a child. Americans overwhelmingly think that decision was the right one, and I agree.
Unfortunately, ever since that landmark ruling, an ideological war has been waged against women’s health in a longstanding effort to ban abortion. The rights guaranteed to women under Roe v. Wade are still under assault today — and face some of the most dangerous attacks yet.
State politicians across the country are passing unnecessary and harmful laws that interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, restrict women’s access to safe medical care and block women from exercising their constitutionally protected rights. Many Republicans in Congress are emulating this aggressive strategy.
These ideological attacks would rewrite history. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed that medical decisions should be left to women and their families, not politicians.
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Yet in 2015 alone, state legislatures saw nearly 400 bills introduced and 47 laws enacted that chip away at women’s rights and inject politics into widely accepted standards of care. By establishing medically unnecessary and scientifically unsound barriers to health care, these reckless measures put both women’s access to care and their doctors at risk.
In just a few months, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of these kinds of attacks in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the most significant abortion case in a decade. This case is focused on a 2013 law passed in Texas, known as HB2, but the implications will be felt nationwide.
HB2 imposes draconian requirements on abortion providers in Texas, making it harder for women to exercise their constitutional rights. If upheld by the Supreme Court, it threatens to close more than 75 percent of clinics in the state and leave nearly 2 million women without meaningful access to care.
Regrettably, Texas is not alone. Fourteen other states already have similar laws on the books. In Mississippi, for example, there is only one abortion provider remaining for the 1.5 million women in the state, many of whom live hundreds of miles from the sole remaining clinic.
A woman’s right to make her own health-care decisions means nothing without the ability to exercise that right. That’s why I joined more than 150 colleagues in urging the Supreme Court to stop states from unduly restricting women’s constitutional rights. I hope the court recognizes that these shameful attacks undermine Roe v. Wade, put women’s health at risk and must be struck down.
An anti-choice ruling by the Supreme Court could make a bad situation worse. If HB2 is upheld, it would pave the way for similar restrictions at the federal level — and congressional leaders are already trying.
The current Congress has voted 20 times to limit women’s health-care choices, and in the last year alone, the U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping bills to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, allow employers to discriminate against workers for using birth control and restrict reproductive health coverage in private insurance.
More than 150 Republicans even voted to shut down the government rather than allow women to access lifesaving preventive care through Planned Parenthood. It’s inexcusable.
In the more than four decades since Roe v. Wade, it has become clear that some will stop at nothing to obstruct women’s reproductive rights. We cannot and must not let that happen. No one has the right to interfere with a woman’s most personal medical decisions.
As we commemorate the anniversary of this milestone for women, we must recommit to protecting its legacy and defending women’s health for generations to come.