Warren: Congress must enact federal laws protecting abortion rights

May 20, 2019

Responding to a flurry of state-level anti-abortion laws, 2020 presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said on March 17 that Congress must pass federal laws to protect access to birth control and reproductive care, The Huffington Post reported. .

She posted on Medium, outlining the type of federal actions needed, should challenges from jurisdictions with anti-abortion laws lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that ensures a woman’s right to an abortion.

“Court challenges will continue. And the next President can begin to undo some of the damage by appointing neutral and fair judges who actually respect the law and cases like Roe instead of right-wing ideologues bent on rolling back constitutional rights,” Warren wrote. “But separate from these judicial fights, Congress has a role to play as well.”

The senator said Congress must create federal, statutory rights that parallel Roe v. Wade’s constitutional rights, according to the Huffington Post. These rights would include barring states from interfering in a provider’s ability to offer medical care or blocking patients’ access to such care, including abortions. This would invalidate state laws like those in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio.

Warren also proposed that Congress enact laws to preempt states’ efforts to limit the chipping away of  reproductive healthcare in ways that don’t necessarily violate Roe v. Wade. Such efforts include restrictions on medication abortion; and geographical and procedural requirements that make it nearly impossible for a woman to get an abortion.

Congress also must repeal the Hyde Amendment,  a 40-year-old policy that blocks abortion coverage for women under federally funded health care programs like Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, and the Indian Health Service, according to Warren. She added that conversations about reproductive health access and coverage should include immigrant women.

To ensure equal access to reproductive health care, Warren wrote, Congress must terminate President Donald Trump’s gag rule on abortion clinics and support Title X funding for family planning. She added that lawmakers must also prevent violence at clinics and discrimination based on women’s choices about their own bodies—adding that Congress must “ensure access to contraception, STI prevention and care, comprehensive sex education, care for pregnant moms, safe home and work environments, adequate wages, and so much more.

“This is a dark moment. People are scared and angry. And they are right to be,” Warren wrote. “But this isn’t a moment to back down ― it’s time to fight back.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

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