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Hirono Pushes to Prevent Federal Assistance of Abortion Surveillance

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) 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. In a letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris, the lawmakers urged the Administration to uphold its commitment to reproductive rights and take all necessary steps to ensure federal resources, including those administered through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), cannot be weaponized for abortion surveillance and enforcement of abortion bans. In addition to Senator Hirono, the letter was also led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA).

“As members of Congress committed to protecting reproductive health privacy, we are concerned about reports that state and local law enforcement could use existing forms of federal assistance to surveil people who seek or assist in abortion care,” wrote the lawmakers. “To ensure federal resources help rather than hinder access to reproductive care, we ask that the Administration take steps to prevent the use of federal assistance for state and local abortion surveillance.”

“It is imperative that federal resources safeguard access to reproductive health care, including abortion care,” the lawmakers continued. “As part of the Administration’s efforts to protect access to abortion and other reproductive health care, we ask that you take all necessary steps to ensure federal resources in no way aid or supplement criminal investigations of reproductive health decisions.”

In addition to Senators Hirono and Wyden and Representative Jacobs, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), as well as Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Katie Porter (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), William Keating (D-MA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jason Crow (D-CO), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), David Trone (D-MD), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

The full text of the letter is available here

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. 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 joined her colleagues in a letter urging 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 a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.