New abortion legislation is preparing to make its way through Congress, but for once, liberals may rest easy. Referred to as a rare “pro-choice” bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 aims to strengthen women’s reproductive rights rather than undermine them.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen governing bodies pass a slew of laws restricting abortion. Though purportedly the new regulations are done for women’s safety, it’s plain to see that their true intentions are to limit women’s access to abortions. Unable to make abortion illegal, anti-choice activists have settled for making the act all but illegal. While Democrats have largely voted against these bills when possible, until now, they have done little to block further such attempts.
Rather than remaining a passive bystander in this ongoing assault on women’s health, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, has decided to turn the tables. On Wednesday, he introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, in the hopes of protecting Roe v Wade. By adding more explicit women’s health rights into federal law, states would have a much more difficult time slowly hacking away at abortions.
Several Democratic females join Blumenthal in sponsoring the bill in both legislative bodies. On the Senate side, Barbara Boxer of California and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will support the proposal. In the House, the Women’s Health Protection Act will be championed by Representatives Judy Chu from California, Lois Frankel from Florida and Marcia Fudge from Ohio.
If the Women’s Health Protection Act were to pass, states would face the burden of proving how their abortion-restrictive laws actually benefit women’s health. The bill would prohibit mandatory ultrasounds designed to guilt women and required repeated appointments meant to delay the procedure. Additionally, it would put a stop to restrictions designed specifically to target abortion providers while excluding other, comparable medical practices.
Previously, conservative state judges argued that laws that very clearly place additional restrictions on abortion don’t actually “burden” women from having the procedure. However, because the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 would forbid many of these specific practices in no uncertain terms, judges would have no choice but to acknowledge such restrictions are illegal in the future.
Sounds great, huh? Unfortunately, it may be just a pipe dream. Even Senator Blumenthal admits that the bill is not likely to go into effect given the current conservative stronghold on the House of Representatives.
Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction for progressives. Instead of playing delayed defense after every Republican attack on reproductive rights, the Democrats finally seem motivated to make an offensive play. Even if not initially successful, perhaps the energy created by this bill will help the Democrats to reinstate some of the rights the Republicans have managed to whittle away with their own agenda.
In the meantime, show your support! Sign this petition to let your representatives know that you back the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 and that you’d appreciate their votes in favor of the legislation, as well.
Photo Credit: ProgressOhio