As health care providers committed to ensuring our patients have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, which will always include abortion care, we write to express our strong support for the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). We wish to outline the importance of protections around abortion access for our communities and the harm caused to patients when abortion care is pushed out of reach. Whether patients are ready to build or create their families, already parenting, or have decided not to continue a pregnancy, all of them share something in common – they are making thoughtful, complex, and sometimes difficult, decisions about their health and well-being. Each of them deserves access to high quality health care, including abortion care, regardless of who they are, their income, and regardless of where they live.
The moment to pass WHPA is now. Last fall, we witnessed the eradication of access to abortion in Texas as federal courts declined to halt a clearly unconstitutional ban on abortion, allowing Texas’s unprecedented private enforcement scheme to stand. As a result of this inaction, thousands of people have been forced to leave Texas, seeking care at great expense and hardship in other states, or have been unable to travel at all and forced to carry their pregnancies to term. Several states have already filed or declared their intentions to pass copycat bills, which means this crisis will spread to even more states. We urgently need federal protection for abortion today.
Equal access to abortion care is essential for the health, well-being, security, and dignity of our patients. Abortion is a right protected by the U.S. Constitution and has been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court – most recently in 2020 – that the Constitution’s guarantees of privacy and liberty protect a person’s right to end a pregnancy. Yet, despite almost 50 years of precedent, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in Texas and will issue a decision later this year that could eliminate the fragile protections of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Today in large parts of the country, especially in Texas where Roe is effectively nullified, abortion care is out of reach for many members of our communities. Lack of insurance coverage for this essential care, a shortage of abortion providers, and hundreds of other medically unjustified state restrictions have compounded the problem and made abortion nearly impossible to obtain, particularly for those already experiencing significant barriers to essential health care.
As providers, we see first-hand the harm restrictions on abortion care cause our patients. Denial of abortion care can have serious long-lasting consequences on a person’s health and well-being. For example, people who have been denied an abortion are more likely to experience high blood pressure and other serious medical conditions during the end of pregnancy; more likely to remain in relationships where interpersonal violence is present; and more likely to experience poverty.
Abortion is essential health care and it should not be singled out for exclusion or have additional administrative or financial burdens placed upon it. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), along with other medical societies, identifies abortion as an essential health care service that requires timely access to care. ACOG also recommends the repeal of legislation that imposes barriers to access and interferes with the patient-provider relationship, including abortion bans, mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and unjustified facility and staffing requirements.
Abortion is extremely safe and arbitrary barriers on abortion care do not make it any safer. In 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) published a comprehensive study affirming the safety record of abortion and pointed out that the biggest threat to patient safety is the litany of medically unnecessary regulations that raise costs and delay procedures, ultimately putting patients’ health at risk.
Passing WHPA would help put an end to arbitrary and medically unnecessary barriers on abortion care. This critical legislation passed the House of Representatives in June 2021 by a decisive margin, and we urge the Senate to follow suit and pass these protections as soon as possible. A person’s ability to access vital health care should never depend on their zip code.
As medical professionals, we assure you that timely and affordable access to abortion is essential to the health and well-being of our patients and communities. Please vote yes on the Women’s Health Protection Act.
500+ health care providers across the United States