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Sewell applauds passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act

The bill is designed to override state-level laws limiting abortion availability.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell during a committee hearing. Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, on Friday released a statement applauding the passage of HR3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). The WHPA is Democratic legislation that would guarantee pregnant women the right to access an abortion.

The bill is designed to override state-level laws limiting abortion availability. This legislation would ensure equal access to a full range of reproductive health care services for women across the country regardless of state law. 

“The protections secured by Roe v. Wade are on the line,” Sewell said. “I believe that a woman’s reproductive choices should be between her and her doctor, not between her, her doctor, and her elected officials. Women everywhere must have access to a full range of reproductive health care services, which is why I’m proud to support the Women’s Health Protection Act.”

The WHPA guarantees a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion as well as the right of an abortion provider to deliver abortion services free from state restrictions that abortion providers claim interfere with a patient’s individual choice or the provider-patient relationship.

HR3755 is sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu, D-California.

State laws banning abortions were struck down by the controversial Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in 1973. From Roe to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized abortion as a constitutional right.

Increasingly, however, pro-life advocates in states across the country have worked for years advocating for state-level laws meant to undermine or eliminate access to abortions. In the last decade, state lawmakers have pushed through nearly 500 restrictive laws that make abortion difficult and sometimes impossible to access. This year, four states have passed bans on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, before some women even know they’re pregnant. Lawmakers in Arkansas and Oklahoma attempted to ban abortion completely.

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The WHPA would override those state laws and allow abortion providers to continue to operate in those states despite the will of the state legislatures there.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, applauded Friday’s vote. Alexis McGill Johnson is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“Given the unprecedented level of attacks on the constitutional right to an abortion in Texas and across the country, it is imperative that the federal government step in,” Johnson said. “Today, the U.S. House of Representatives did its part. The historic House passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act is an important step in protecting the right to access an abortion in the U.S, and halting the wave of harmful and deeply unpopular abortion restrictions across the country. We thank the reproductive health care champions in the House for advocating for safe, legal abortion and Speaker Pelosi for bringing this to the House floor. Now the Senate must follow suit and immediately pass this critical legislation.”

The pro-abortion rights bill passed the House by a vote of 218 to 211 on a largely party-line vote. Just one Democrat voted against HR3755 and no Republicans voted for it.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate where it already has 48 cosponsors but is unlikely to pass without considerable Republican support under the current Senate filibuster rules requiring 60 votes to shut down debate.

Sewell is serving in her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. Sewell was among the bill’s 176 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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