Calls on Senate to pass Women’s Health Protection Act
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade:
“Like many Americans, I was profoundly disappointed to learn from news reports last week of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Roe has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years. Generations of women have relied on its protections in shaping their lives. In fact, most American women have lived their entire lives knowing they have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. Now, the Supreme Court appears ready to take that right away with the stroke of a pen.
If it does this, I believe that this court would be ignoring precedent and gutting a half-century of progress for women. And in doing so the court would devalue women’s health and women’s lives.
Make no mistake: if this draft opinion becomes final, the consequences would be serious and would affect women throughout our country.
The impacts could be devastating. According to an analysis by the New York Times, approximately half of U.S. states are poised to ban or severely restrict access to abortion if this opinion becomes final.
Some states, including Texas and Oklahoma, have already passed laws banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. That’s before many women even know they’re pregnant. Those laws are unconstitutional today under Roe, but could be put into effect immediately if the court strikes Roe down.
Other states may go even further either by banning abortion after the moment of conception or by making abortion a homicide, as a Louisiana bill would do.
And several across the country have bans in place that lack any exceptions, including for rape or incest. These would take effect immediately if Roe were overturned.
If these draconian state laws go into effect:
- Women would lose the ability to make a decision about a pregnancy after experiencing a traumatic sexual assault.
- Women could be forced to endure a pregnancy, even if that pregnancy could possibly kill them.
- And women could lose access to important fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization, a medical advancement that many people rely on to build their families.
These state laws could also add to the already monumental pain associated with miscarriage, by dangling the threat of criminal charges over the head of any woman who loses a child during a pregnancy.
The majority of Americans alive today do not remember a time before Roe became the law of the land. They don’t know what it was like before the United States recognized this important right.
I remember the days when abortion was illegal. I remember passing a hat in college to collect money so a classmate could go to Mexico for an abortion. Women who could not afford to travel were forced into even more dangerous alternatives at home. They were often forced to self-induce, sometimes with a fatal result.
It’s these women, many who cannot afford to travel to another state for an abortion, who will be harmed the most by the Supreme Court’s decision if it becomes final.
If this draft opinion should become final, around half of all American women would find themselves living in states that make access to safe abortion care difficult or impossible.
And the harm from this decision will fall disproportionately on low-income, at-risk, and minority women. Forty-nine percent of women who have had an abortion live below the poverty line.
And these women would be forced to travel long distances at great cost in order to secure an abortion. For example, women who live in Mississippi now have to travel an average of 67 miles one-way to receive an abortion. If the court were to strike down Roe and abortion clinics were forced to shutter, women would have to drive on average nearly 500 miles one-way to reach an out-of-state abortion clinic.
That much travel would be impossible for many women, particularly those who already have young children at home, who cannot afford the cost of the flight or gas money, or those who cannot take time off from work.
Furthermore, studies have shown that there is a direct link between lack of abortion access and maternal mortality.
Analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that between 2010 to 2015, when several states enacted new laws restrict abortion access, the maternal mortality rate grew by 136 percent.
Let’s be clear: Restricting a woman’s legal access to abortion health care will not stop women from seeking out that care. It will only make the process of seeking an abortion much less safe. Many women will be forced to endure unregulated and dangerous procedures, while others will attempt self-managed medication abortions at home. Lives will be lost.
In conclusion, this potential decision by the Supreme Court would have dangerous consequences for millions of Americans.
We reduce the value of a woman’s life when we take away her ability to control her own body.
Now, Congress must do everything it can to ensure that individuals are able to access critical medical care and make the best decisions possible for their health. It is more important than ever that Congress passes the Women’s Health Protection Act to safeguard federal protections for women seeking abortion care.
We cannot stand idly by and allow the lives of women everywhere to be endangered by this ill-conceived effort to overturn our fundamental rights.”