History was made today when the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 218-211, passed the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The act safeguards abortion rights by nullifying state abortion bans. It also guarantees the right for patients to receive abortion care and for health care professionals to provide abortions. Additionally, the Women’s Health Protection Act protects against medically unnecessary restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, admitting privilege requirements and limits on medication abortion. Such restrictions create burdensome barriers to abortion access.
This legislation is crucial, given the tsunami of religious attacks on abortion care in the United States. The year 2021 is setting records for introduction and passage of abortion restrictions. In just one week this year, 28 anti-abortion bills were signed into law. So far, there have been over 550 abortion restrictions introduced in 47 states in 2021. More than 80 restrictions have been enacted in 16 states.
Among the draconian abortion restrictions is the Texas abortion ban, enacted on Sept. 1, which has created a crisis by effectively outlawing abortions in Texas and deputizing private citizens to become abortion bounty hunters. And as the ultraconservative Supreme Court is slated to hear a major anti-abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, it is vital to support legislation to protect the constitutional right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Abortion bans are in direct contrast to public opinion, with 75 percent of all Americans supporting abortion rights, including 98.8 percent of secular voters.
That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation submitted formal testimony in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Credit goes to major sponsors Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Conn., and Tammy Baldwin, Wis., as well as Reps. Judy Chu, Calif., Lois Frankel, Fla., Ayanna Pressley, Mass., and Veronica Escobar, Texas, and the other representatives who voted to affirm and protect reproductive freedom.
The Women’s Health Protection Act now heads to the Senate where it is sure to face opposition from anti-abortion legislators. It’s vital that we ensure that our secular voices are heard and call on our senators to pass this important piece of abortion legislation.
Could this Supreme Court undo marriage equality? FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel answers that question in a new column for Religion Dispatches, contending that we should be worried:
When I look at this broken, packed, partisan Supreme Court, I don’t see a guardian — I see a threat to our basic human rights. I see an institution packed with ideologues eager to throw out decades of settled law with cursory shadow docket opinions.
A quick head count shows six members willing to check any box on the conservative Christian wishlist. Barrett, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (who agrees fully on ideology, but not methodology — he wants slow, incremental change to preserve the legitimacy of the court). The six judges of the American apocalypse have already gutted reproductive rights and completely rewritten religious freedom and state/church separation as Christian privilege. But they’re just getting started.
I’ve warned that they’re coming for contraception soon. I know most people don’t want to think about it, perhaps can’t believe it’s a possibility, but marriage equality is also on the chopping block.
Seidel also refutes the most frequently offered rebuttal. “When I raise the possibility that this court might kill marriage equality, the most commonly raised counterargument is the administrative impossibility of untangling the web of rights — parental, property, tax, insurance, financial, estate-planning and so much more — that we weave into marriage,” he writes. You’ll want to read the column to find out why he doesn’t find this too persuasive.
Please read the piece on Religion Dispatches and then share it on your social media so that people are aware of just how much is at stake and how we can solve the problem. Then start calling your senators.