Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice Groups to Congress: Our Broken Democracy is Standing in the Way of Justice
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it won’t stand a chance of passing if the filibuster remains in place.
With the newly-enacted Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, along with a similarly-restrictive Mississippi law that is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 1, there is an urgent need to pass federal protections for reproductive rights before it’s too late.
The following statements are from members of the Fix Our Senate coalition:
“Every Senate Democrat loves someone who had an abortion and has the power to make abortion more accessible—if only they would eliminate the filibuster to help pass the Women’s Health Protection Act,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, Founder & Executive Director of We Testify. “Senate Democrats can no longer claim to support access to abortion, while staying silent or outright refusing to do something—anything!—about the filibuster. We’re facing the nightmare scenario abortion advocates have warned about for decades. The very least Senate Democrats can do is join together to stop a racist, antiquated Senate rule from blocking our access to reproductive justice.”
"Congress must prioritize reproductive justice by removing Senate roadblocks to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act as soon as humanly possible,” said Mayra Jacqueline "Jacquie" Ferreira, MPH, Executive Director at the National Women's Health Network. “SB8 is unconscionable, and pregnant people in Texas need our help now. Women of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, who are most vulnerable to assaults on their ability to obtain the health care they need, must be protected by federal legislation.
“The Women’s Health Protection Act is likely to have the same fate as other progressive legislation passed by the House but stalled in the Senate - another casualty of the filibuster. The filibuster is fundamentally undemocratic, a relic of the Jim Crow era, and it thwarts the federal government’s role in defending basic rights including the right to vote and the right to make our own decisions about abortion,” URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity Executive Director Kimberly Inez McGuire (she/her/ella) said. “Congress cannot allow heightened attacks on reproductive justice to go unchecked. People need abortion care today, in Texas and everywhere, and are facing everything from dozens of restrictions to all out bans. Congress must take action to end these restrictions, to uphold the will of the people, and to protect young people’s health and dignity. That begins with ending the filibuster and moving a people’s agenda for justice.”
"Women's bodies should be respected, not threatened or controlled,” said Amanda Brown Lierman, Executive Director of Supermajority. “That's why Congress must act now and pass the Women's Health Protection Act which will protect our right to safe and legal abortion access. We cannot let the filibuster - a practice that undermines progress and uphold the status quo - prevent women from making their own health decisions and getting access to lifesaving care."
“Right now, we’re at a break-glass moment for women in America: The only thing standing between the right to an abortion and a hyper-conservative Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe V. Wade—and state legislatures across the country that effectively already have—is federal action. Today, Democrats in the House did the job we sent them to Washington for and passed the Women’s Health Protection Act. But as long as the filibuster remains in place, Senate Democrats won’t be able to do theirs. Women went to the polls in 2020 and elected Democrats to majorities across our federal government because we want action—not excuses. Enough is enough. The time to eliminate the filibuster and codify Roe V. Wade into federal law is now,” said Kim Russell, Director of Campaigns, Women's March.
"Today's House passage of the Women's Health Protection Act is an important step to ensuring people can get the abortion care they need, though it's certainly not the last," said Kelsey Ryland, All* Above All Federal Strategies Director. "To achieve true abortion justice, Congress must enact bold policies that lift barriers that disproportionately target people of color working to make ends meet, including abortion coverage bans. Ending the filibuster is a key step to advancing legislation that ensures each of us can make our own decisions about our futures with dignity and economic security."
"Our greatest challenge in passing the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) lies in the Senate," said Sonja Spoo, director of reproductive rights campaigns at UltraViolet, a leading national women’s advocacy organization. "Over the past year, we've seen what dangers right-wing extremism present to reproductive health in states like Texas and Mississippi. The WHPA presents a critical opportunity for Congress to safeguard our rights at the federal level by prohibiting state laws that force unduly burdensome requirements on anyone seeking reproductive health services. Working with initiatives like Fix Our Senate, we can amplify the filibuster’s role in blocking the path for advancing critical legislation like the WHPA. At a time with such high stakes for reproductive health, garnering 50 votes given the filibuster roadblock in a procedurally broken Senate is all the more challenging. That's why we need Senators on both sides of the aisle to work in tandem and vote ‘yes’ on the WHPA without delay.”
“We need a Congress that is empowered and committed to passing legislation that provides critical protections for our communities, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act and Democracy Reform,” said Dr. Jamila Perritt, President & CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, ob/gyn and provider of abortion care in DC. “Unfortunately, right now our Senate is stuck in the past, limited by a procedural rule known as the filibuster, which has historically been used to maintain the status quo, including relics of Jim Crow. White supremacy has no place in our democracy, and yet it is clear that it is white supremacy, mistrust, and attempted control of bodies that is fueling the onslaught of restrictions on abortion care. At this point, we’re not even fighting for progress. Legality is the floor. We must push for access and equity for all people needing abortions, no matter their lived experiences. Abortion care is already impossible to access in Texas, with more states like Florida, Indiana, and Ohio to follow. We demand a future of abortion justice where people can access abortion care when they need it, where they need it, and have access to insurance that covers abortion care. If we fail to end the filibuster, we will be collectively enabling the actions of those like these Texas politicians who have dangerously pushed abortion care out of reach, impacting pregnancy care for all people across the state. And that is a future we at PRH refuse to accept.”
“The Senate filibuster is being used time and time again to kill women’s rights legislation. We have majority support in the House and the Senate and overwhelming public support for the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Woman Act for reproductive justice, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act, all of which have been blocked, or will be blocked or will not even come up for a vote because of the Senate filibuster. We must end the filibuster which is being used to kill important and popular legislation for equality, voting rights, and reproductive justice,” said Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation.
“Now is the time for swift, bold action to safeguard reproductive freedom. Abortion access is being eviscerated across the country. Texas’ horrifying vigilante ban on abortion has left Roe v. Wade in tatters in the second-largest state in the country. Already, 11 other states are promising to follow Texas’ lead in banning abortion with cruel laws that encourage vigilantism and surveillance. NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 2.5 million members are celebrating the landmark passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act in the U.S. House and calling on the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass the bill and send it to President Biden to sign it into law. We cannot wait and we cannot allow any excuse or roadblock, including the filibuster, to stand in the way of preserving the right to abortion and expanding access at this critical moment,” said Christian LoBue, Chief Campaigns and Advocacy Officer, NARAL Pro-Choice America.