113th Congress Saw Significant Pushback Against Attacks on Reproductive Health

For Immediate Release

113th Congress Saw Significant Pushback Against Attacks on Reproductive Health

Members countered relentless anti-choice efforts—from abortion bans to attacks on health care coverage—with Women’s Health Protection Act, other proactive measures

WASHINGTON - In the face of relentless attacks on women’s reproductive health and rights, members of the 113th Congress brought a renewed focus on policies that promote equitable access to health care, support women and families, and prevent politicians and employers from interfering with personal decision-making.

According to a new report issued today by the Center for Reproductive Rights, opponents of women’s reproductive freedom continued their efforts to restrict access to essential health care like abortion and contraception—but they were also met with bold new countermoves, from the Women’s Health Protection Act that would restore women’s access to safe and legal abortion to innovative advocacy campaigns focused on expanding health care coverage for reproductive health care.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Over these last two years, we saw Members of Congress fight back against the seemingly never-ending attacks on women’s health and rights in an unprecedented and groundbreaking way.

“From the introduction of the historic Women’s Health Protection Act to finally providing critical abortion coverage to women in the Peace Corps, legislators and advocates refused to be bullied into only playing defense against policies that harm women and their families.

“We call on this new Congress to focus on policies that truly ensure personal health care decisions remain with women, their families, and physicians—not politicians or bosses.”

In November 2013, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin and Representatives Judy Chu, Lois Frankel, andMarcia Fudge introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act—an historic piece of legislation designed to enforce and protect the rights of every woman to obtain a full range of safe and legal reproductive health care and decide for herself whether to continue or end a pregnancy, regardless of where she lives. The legislation garnered 35 sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House, and was debated before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2014.

Furthermore, critical advances were made in expanding health care coverage for reproductive health care, including abortion. Last month, Congress included a budgetary fix in the omnibus federal funding bill that for the first time in more than 30 years, finally allows women serving in the Peace Corps equal health care coverage for abortion services in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. Additionally, reproductive justice, health, and rights organizations launched a bold new campaign, All* Above All, to build support for lifting bans on abortion coverage that disproportionally harm low-income women and communities of color.

In addition to highlighting these proactive efforts, Fighting Back: Reclaiming Reproductive Rights in the 113th Congress and Beyond also details the sustained anti-choice efforts to restrict women’s reproductive freedoms, including:

  • Renewed efforts to pass an unconstitutional federal abortion ban at 20 weeks
  • Withholding abortion coverage from women and families enrolled in public programs, including prohibiting the District of Columbia from using its own locally-raised funds to cover abortion for low-income women.
  • Attempting to abolish abortion coverage in the private market
  • Shutting down the federal government in an attempt to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of women’s preventive health care, including copay-free contraception.

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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