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Senate Democrats took aim at state abortion restrictions, including red-state "trigger" laws that would immediately ban the procedure if the landmark case Roe v. Wade is overturned, in their effort to codify the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold women’s right to obtain an abortion.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal led the Wednesday Senate hearing to discuss his bill called the Women's Health Protection Act, which "would very simply put an end to an ongoing reality where our doctors are required by law to mislead about the risks of a safe medical procedure.”
Blumenthal’s bill, which was re-introduced earlier this month, would establish the legal right to an abortion in all 50 states, cementing the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling to uphold access to the procedure in a federal statute. It would also protect the rights of abortion providers to perform the procedures without fear of legal repercussions, such as financial penalties and jail time.
“The Women's Health Protection Act would put an end to this litany of state law restrictions, it would end state laws designed to shame women trying to access healthcare by imposing paternalistic waiting periods … It would end laws that force women to endure medically unnecessary and invasive procedures … and it would end laws that require providers to offer medically inaccurate information hen providing abortion care,” Blumenthal said.
The legislation would also outlaw states from enforcing "trigger laws," which are laws passed by state legislatures that would automatically ban abortions once Roe was overturned. Twenty-two states have laws that would immediately restrict access in the absence of Roe, according to the abortion-rights advocacy group the Guttmacher Institute.
“Individuals should not be denied access to this healthcare, simply because of the state in which they live. And these trigger laws, disproportionately affect for women, for people who have the potential to become pregnant, and that is unconstitutional,” said Michele Goodwin, a legal expert for the Irvine School of Law at the University of California.
Last month, the Supreme Court announced it would take up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which it will determine the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 2018 ban declaring an abortion after 15 weeks as constitutional. The court’s acceptance of the case electrified the anti-abortion movement, with many leaders feeling optimistic the conservative-majority court could settle the decadeslong battle to overturn the 1973 decision.
“Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to safe and legal abortion, it's still unfortunate that women's reproductive rights are considered an issue that's up for debate,” said California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The bill has been introduced in the Senate twice but has not made it far enough for a vote out of committee. On the other hand, the companion bill in the House has not made it for a vote.
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Original Author: Cassidy Morrison