March 12, 2019

Duckworth, Murray, Hirono, Harris, Lee, Schakowsky and DeGette Introduce Legislation to Ensure Equal Access to Reproductive Healthcare


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation today protecting every woman’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to reproductive healthcare and helping ensure access to care for each woman, regardless of income, race or where in the country they may live. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act—which was also introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Diana DeGette (CO-01)—would lift the prohibition in current law preventing women who receive their health coverage through government-sponsored plans such as Medicaid, Medicare and the DOD from obtaining legal healthcare services.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed women’s constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions, making clear that the government has no place getting in between women and their doctors,” Duckworth said. “But for decades, conservative lawmakers have worked to whittle down that constitutionally-protected right to the point where it’s now effectively inaccessible for low-income women who rely on Medicaid, for female servicemembers and for millions more women nationwide. The Supreme Court didn’t protect these rights only for wealthy women, and they didn’t say only for women who live in certain states. That kind of discrimination is not right, not fair and it’s certainly not equal—so I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the EACH Woman Act so that every woman in this country has equal access to her constitutionally-protected rights, no matter her income, her race or her zip code.”

“This bill would help address the unacceptable reality that far too many women, particularly low-income women, young women, women of color, and those who live in rural areas, have the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion in name only—not in practice,” said Murray. “I believe that as the Trump Administration and its allies work as hard as they can to take away access to abortion in our country and move women backward, we need to do even more to lay out our vision for ensuring every woman—regardless of how she is insured, her zip code, or her income—can make the decisions that are right for her.”

“All women – regardless of their income level or type of health insurance – are deserving of the fundamental right to access the health care they need, including abortion. Unfortunately, for far too many women in this country, that care is out of reach because of cost,” Hirono said. “The Hyde Amendment, like so many other barriers erected to restrict access to abortion, unequally and disproportionately affects low-income women, women of color, young women, and immigrants. Repealing the Hyde Amendment is a necessary step forward to ensuring all women can equally access their constitutionally-protected right to abortion care.”

“No woman should ever be denied her fundamental reproductive rights,” said Harris. “The Hyde amendment disproportionately targets the most vulnerable populations. I’m proud to co-sponsor the EACH Woman Act, protecting reproductive rights and increasing access to critical health care for all women.”

“No woman should be denied the full spectrum of reproductive health care because of her zip code or income level – yet that is the reality for too many low-income women and women of color,” Lee said. “The EACH Woman Act ensures that every woman is empowered to make critical decisions about her own pregnancy – and has coverage for all pregnancy-related health care, including abortion – regardless of her financial situation. I am proud to reintroduce this bill with the support of my colleagues and the trailblazing women leading the fight for reproductive justice around the country.”

“Though the Trump Administration is bending over backwards to erase reproductive rights for women, the EACH Woman Act takes a giant and important leap forward. I am proud to once again introduce legislation that will allow every woman to make her own health care decisions regardless of her income, her race, where she works, or how she gets her insurance,” said Schakowsky. “The Hyde Amendment has impacted millions of women across this nation for far too long, and I am glad that my colleagues in the Senate have now joined us to say: enough is enough. Comprehensive health care is a human right, and the EACH Woman Act affirms that promise.”  

“For the first time ever, we have a pro-choice majority in the U.S. House of Representatives,” DeGette said. “But, at the same time, we continue to face an administration and a Republican-led Senate that are both determined to make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion in this country. This bill would protect women’s access to abortion services and, as co-chair of the Congressional Pro-choice Caucus, getting it passed is one of our top priorities.”

Duckworth recently spoke on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to vote against S.311, GOP legislation that could have scared doctors into performing ineffective, inappropriate procedures on fetuses born with fatal abnormalities, even if such treatment went against recommended standards of care and was against the best interests of the child and the expectant mother. Duckworth also helped introduce legislation with Senators Murray and Bob Casey (D-PA) to safeguard a woman’s access to birth control against the Trump Administration’s efforts to make it harder for women to access contraceptive coverage.