At Last! Congressional Democrats To Introduce Pro-Choice ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’

Women's Health Protection Act to be introduced by pro-choice Dems

Congressional Democrats who are pro-choice are fighting back against state restrictions with the Women’s Health Protection Act.
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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced at a news conference on Wednesday that he will introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate. The action is being undertaken by pro-choice members in both houses of Congress. According to a prior press release from the senator’s office, the law’s intent is to “protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”

The Women’s Health Protection Act is aimed at states like Texas and Wisconsin that try to “curtail reproductive health services for women.”  It is at the state level that a fierce battle is being fought by Republicans who, in the words of Sen. Blumenthal, have passed a “cascading increase of measures” to put obstacles in the way of women’s rights.

In two years, states have passed 192 restrictions

The protection for women lies in the act’s prohibition against “laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to women’s health such as requiring doctors to perform tests and procedures that doctors deemed unnecessary in their professional opinion.”  According to the bill’s sponsors, states enacted 92 restrictions on abortions and on access to women’s reproductive services in 2011 alone. Since then, another 100 have been passed by state legislatures. As Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said at the news conference, “Without access, the right to abortion is meaningless.”

The initiative by Democrats is a welcome response to the unremitting GOP assault on women’s right to choose and to retain control over their own bodies. In what would appear to be a stroke of genius, the title of the legislation, the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013”, co-opts the language in the title of ‘model legislation’ formulated by the anti-choice law firm and advocacy group, Americans United For Life. The title on their anti-choice proposal is the same as the Democrats’ except for the phrase “(Abortion Clinic Regulations)” added on the end.

The Women’s Health Protection Act takes back control of the discussion

Asserting control over the rhetoric is a move that is long overdue. Pro-choice lawmakers and advocates can’t afford to let the opposition use definitions that are insults to women in the fight over reproductive rights. The most obvious example is the use of the term ‘pro-life’ to describe the conservative position. The term is a lie and a manipulation. Conservatives aren’t ‘pro’ anything positive in this struggle. They are ‘anti-choice’ and, as they’ve proven over and over again, anti-woman. The idea that GOP legislation protects women’s health is also an obvious lie.

The primary sponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act are U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D.-Wisc.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) in the Senate.  In the House, sponsors are U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-Cal.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) Note the preponderance of women on this list. The increasing numbers of female legislators, as well as their visibility, are vital to winning the struggle for equal rights.

Citizens ‘standing strong’ will win the fight

The six primary sponsors all spoke at Wednesday’s press conference. They added that the bill already has 29 co-sponsors in the Senate and 53 in the House. Sen. Blumenthal said, “We will win this fight”, maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. The reason is a growing movement of citizen activists across the country who are “standing strong” to oppose the GOP’s insertion of conservative politicians between women and their doctors.

The bill will no doubt pass the Senate, but has little chance of passage in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives. What it will do is force the GOP to debate and defend their anti-woman stance as the country heads into 2014’s mid-term elections. Their actions and justifications are so transparent that this should only serve to further mobilize the electorate. With the swearing-in of a different Congress, post-election, Sen. Blumenthal’s statement can become fact. “We will win this fight.”