March 08, 2023

Hirono Introduces Legislation to Restore and Protect Americans’ Right to an Abortion Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined 47 of her Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023, federal legislation to guarantee access to abortion, everywhere across the country and restore the right to comprehensive reproductive health care for millions of Americans. The bill’s introduction follows the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which repealed Roe v. Wade. This decision has stripped access to abortion care for millions of Americans and denied individuals the freedom to make their own health care decisions. The Women’s Health Protection Act creates federal rights for patients and providers to protect abortion access and creates federal protections against medically unnecessary restrictions that undermine Americans’ access to health care and intrude upon personal decision-making.

“The right-wing, ideologically-driven Supreme Court’s decision overturning nearly 50 years of precedent by abolishing an individual’s right to get an abortion was just the beginning,” said Senator Hirono. “The Dobbs decision opened the doors for extremist Republicans who have made clear they will stop at nothing to control our bodies. As Republicans work to enact a nationwide abortion ban, it has never been more critical that we codify the right to access abortion care for every person in this country. I’m proud to join Senator Baldwin and our colleagues in reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect the fundamental right of every individual to make decisions about our bodies and our futures.”

Since the Dobbs decision, 14 states have already implemented near-total abortion bans, leaving one in three American women without access to safe, legal abortion care. Additionally, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to include medically unnecessary restrictions that limit access to abortion care. Patients are being denied or delayed access to necessary and potentially life-saving treatment, including for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage management, because of new legal risks to providers. And, the harms caused by these abortion restrictions fall heaviest on populations that already experience inequities, including people with low incomes, people of color, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and those living in rural and other medically underserved areas.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would:

  1. Prohibit states from imposing restrictions that jeopardize access to abortion earlier in pregnancy, including many of the state-level restrictions in place prior to Dobbs, such as arbitrary waiting periods, medically unnecessary mandatory ultrasounds, or requirements to provide medically inaccurate information.
  2. Ensure that later in pregnancy, states cannot limit access to abortion if it would jeopardize the life or health of the mother.
  3. Protect the ability to travel out of state for an abortion, which has become increasingly common in recent years.

Video of Senator Hirono discussing the legislation on the Senate floor is available here.

The full text of the bill is available here. A one page summary of the bill is available here.

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. Earlier this week, Senator Hirono introduced legislation to expand protections for Americans’ personal health data privacy following reports that have shown social media companies are collecting and data brokers are selling location data that could be used to identify individuals seeking reproductive health care services. She also led 30 of her colleagues in pushing to prevent local and state law enforcement from using federal assistance to surveil or investigate individuals receiving or providing abortion care.

Last month, she introduced the Secure Access for Essential Reproductive (SAFER) Health Act, legislation that would expand patient privacy protections by strengthening the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to prohibit medical providers from disclosing personal health information related to abortion or pregnancy loss without patient consent. Senator Hirono also urged the Biden administration to take new steps to protect reproductive freedom amidst divided control of Congress and increasing efforts to restrict access to abortion.

In August, she introduced the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to protect doctors against Republicans’ non-stop attacks and ensure they can safely provide abortion care in states where it is still legal. She also led a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services urging them to make medication abortion more easily accessible. In July, Senator Hirono introduced the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022, which clarifies that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services, and would empower impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict an individual’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

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