In the past few weeks Republicans have passed some of the most extreme bans on abortion since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973. In Alabama, governor Kay Ivey signed a law that would ban abortion from the moment of conception and onward. In Georgia, a woman could be punished for a self-induced abortion with life in prison as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, at around six weeks. For now, abortion is still legal (albeit sometimes hard to access) in all 50 states. But women’s lives are under threat, and presidential candidates need to have a plan to protect them.
On Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke out about these abortion restrictions—and demanded that Congress pass federal laws to protect women’s reproductive rights. In a post published on Medium, the presidential candidate explained the federal laws she would like to see enacted if challenges from states like Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio were to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court, so a woman’s right to an abortion would still be protected.
“Court challenges will continue. And the next President can begin to undo some of the damage by appointing neutral and fair judges who actually respect the law and cases like Roe instead of right-wing ideologues bent on rolling back constitutional rights,” Warren wrote. “But separate from these judicial fights, Congress has a role to play as well.”
Warren went on to outline a plan to create federal laws that parallel the rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade. “These rights would have at least two key components. First, they must prohibit states from interfering in the ability of a health care provider to provide medical care, including abortion services. Second, they must prohibit states from interfering in the ability of a patient to access medical care, including abortion services, from a provider that offers them,” Warren wrote.
The senator then detailed proposed laws that would preemptively stop state’s efforts from blocking access to reproductive health care. “States have passed countless Targeted Regulations on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which are designed to functionally limit and eliminate women’s access to abortion care while not technically contravening Roe. Geographical, physical, and procedural restrictions and requirements. Restrictions on medication abortion. These kinds of restrictions are medically-unnecessary and exist for only one purpose: to functionally eliminate the ability of women to access abortion services. A bill already proposed in Congress, The Women’s Health Protection Act, would provide the mechanism to block these kinds of schemes concocted to deny women access to care. Congress should pass it,” Warren added.
Warren also proposed repealing the Hyde Amendment, which blocks abortion coverage for women under programs like Medicaid and Veterans Affairs. “All women—no matter where they live, where they’re from, how much money they make, or the color of their skin—are entitled to access the high-quality, evidence-based reproductive health care that is envisioned by Roe. Making that a reality starts with repealing the Hyde Amendment, Warren wrote. “Congress should also expand culturally- and linguistically-appropriate services and information and include immigrant women in conversations about coverage and access. Congress must also pass the EACH Woman Act, which would also prohibit abortion restrictions in private insurance. And we should ensure that all future health coverage—including Medicare for All—includes contraception and abortion coverage.”
Warren made clear this is just the beginning of her plans to help protect women’s reproductive rights. “Securing a federal right to Roe and ensuring that reproductive health care is available to every woman in America is just the beginning. We must undo the current Administration’s efforts to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care – including ending Trump’s gag rule and fully support Title X family planning funding. We must crack down on violence at abortion clinics and ensure that women are not discriminated against at work or anywhere else for the choices they made about their bodies,” she wrote.
With this plan, Warren joins Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as one of the few presidential candidates to share a comprehensive strategy for protecting the right to an abortion. Voters, it seems, are on their side. A 2018 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that over 70 percent of American voters believe that Roe should not be overturned, and even a majority of Republicans think the law should stand.