March 08, 2023

Duckworth, Durbin Help Introduce Legislation to Restore and Protect Americans’ Right to an Abortion Nationwide


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, on International Women’s Day, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and other members of the Senate Democratic caucus 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 healthcare for millions of Americans. The bill’s introduction follows the Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which repealed Roe v. Wade. This decision stripped access to abortion care for millions of Americans and denied individuals the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions. 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.

“When we push for reproductive freedom and abortion access, we are prioritizing the health and safety of millions of women, especially low-income women and women of color,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to help reintroduce the Women’s Health Protection Act on this International Women’s Day, and I’m determined to continue using my voice to push for women’s issues as long as I’m in Congress.”

“With the Dobbs ruling, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court swiftly erased a half-century guarantee that the Constitution grants Americans the right to access an abortion.  This deeply damaging decision has stripped millions of women of their reproductive rights and allowed Republican state legislatures to institute draconian bans and restrictions on women’s health care,” said Senator Durbin.  “All Americans should be able to choose whether and how to expand their families, without the interference of judges and politicians.  My colleagues and I are taking a stand by reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the right of every American to make reproductive health care decisions about their own body.”

“Right now, in Wisconsin and across the country, Americans are being denied their right to control their bodies, families, and futures. In Wisconsin, women are living in 1849, where a near-total abortion ban that pre-dates the Civil War is in effect that is putting women’s health and well-being in jeopardy,” said Senator Baldwin. “Every American deserves the freedom to make their own health care decisions without interference from politicians, and Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree. The Women’s Health Protection Act is a necessary step to restore Americans’ constitutional right to choose what’s best for their families and allow doctors to do the job they are trained to do – all free from medically unnecessary restrictions.”

“The Women’s Health Protection Act would reverse the death sentence handed down to American women when the Supreme Court overturned fifty years of precedent in Roe. The heart of the Women’s Health Protection Act is reproductive justice – the fundamental right to safely choose if or when to have children, and the freedom to make that choice no matter who you are or where you live,” said Senator Blumenthal. “It will reverse the draconian and devastating bans and restrictions that fall on all women, and disproportionately on Black and Latina people, individuals with lower incomes, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and so many others who face barriers to care. This issue is about more than health care; it is about women’s rights, individual rights, and human rights.”

Following the Dobbs decision in June of last year, millions of Americans 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 and those living in rural and other medically underserved areas.

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 healthcare and intrude upon personal decision-making.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would:

  • 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.
  • Ensure that later in pregnancy, states cannot limit access to abortion if it would jeopardize the life or health of the mother.
  • Protect the ability to travel out of state for an abortion, which has become increasingly common in recent years.

A full list of co-sponsors and a copy of the bill text is available here.

A one-pager on the bill is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.  

Duckworth has made protecting and expanding access to essential women’s healthcare a top priority as a Senator. Recently, the Senator hosted Dr. Erin King of Illinois’s Hope Clinic as her 2023 State of the Union guest, as part of the Senator’s continuing efforts to defend Americans’ right to full, comprehensive reproductive healthcare—no matter their zip code, income, ability status or skin color. In 2021, she introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, as well as previously supported the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she vocally criticized Republicans for blocking. After she urged Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to proactively protect servicemembers’ abortion rights, the Department of Defense announced several new protections and services to ensure our female troops can access the healthcare they need. Duckworth also pushed back against Republican attacks against the Biden Administration’s efforts to protect female Veterans’ access to care.