By Georgeanne M. Usova
Watching Congress' actions toward women last week might leave you confused about what year it is. Instead of advancing a single policy designed to help women, the U.S. House of Representatives has chosen to attack women's health any way it can.
Even after House leadership was forced to abandon plans for a vote on a nationwide abortion ban bill, because it was so extreme that women in the GOP caucus rejected it, the House didn't stop there. Instead, it quickly swapped out one bad bill for another and passed a harmful ban on abortion coverage. This bill would eliminate health insurance coverage for abortion for millions of women, effectively robbing them of the ability to access the care they need.
Medical experts immediately condemned the House leadership for substituting politics for science and jeopardizing women's health. "All women should have access to the medical services they need – including reproductive care – regardless of the ability to pay," said Dr. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient's individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns."
Yet it's clear that for far too many legislators restricting women's access to safe, legal abortion is their top priority. So here's the big question: Why are some politicians so intent on passing them? The answer couldn't be any clearer – these politicians want to get one step closer to banning all abortion, and they will stop at nothing to do just that.
In just a few weeks, the new Congress has already introduced a slew of bills designed to restrict a woman's access to abortion. Among these is a bill that would block funding to organizations that provide crucial reproductive health care to low-income women, like Planned Parenthood. This also includes a bill that would allow hospitals to refuse to provide an abortion to a woman experiencing a serious pregnancy complication and a bill that would target abortion providers with unnecessary and burdensome requirements like those that have decimated access to abortion in Texas.
In short, Congress is committed to turning back the clock for women by introducing more and more hurdles to safe and legal abortion access. This is ideology run amok, as Americans of all parties agree that this is the wrong way for their elected officials to spend their time.
Luckily some members of Congress are listening. The Women's Health Protection Act was reintroduced last week in both the House and Senate. That bill would ensure that a woman's access to safe, legal abortion does not depend on her zip code. Both chambers honored last week's 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision inRoe v. Wade with a resolution in support of legislation that allows women to plan their families and futures by expanding access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
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Extremists in Congress have sent a clear signal that they won't let up on attempting to restrict women's rights any time soon. They have already said that they still intend to bring up a 20 week ban for a vote soon, even though it's clear that interfering with women's personal medical decisions is a failing agenda.
We can't let this Congress send extreme anti-women's health bills to the president's desk. If you agree, tell Congress to stand against extreme attempts to restrict women's reproductive rights!
Georgeanne M. Usova works at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. Follow ACLU_SoCal.