Attorney General Tong joins coalition in defense of women’s health and reproductive freedom
Attorney General Tong Joins Coalition to Advocate for Women’s Health and Reproductive Freedom
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 16 Attorneys General from across the country to submit testimony to the Congressional dossier, calling for passage of the Privacy Protection Act Women’s Health (WHPA), which would protect the constitutional right of access to an abortion by prohibiting unnecessary restrictions – adopted at the state level – that compromise the availability and safety of health care services for women.
“We witness a frontal attack on a woman’s right to choose ”, said Attorney General Tong. “Now more than ever, when the Supreme Court must hear Dobbs vs. Jackson, a case that seeks to strike at the heart of Roe vs. Wade, and states like Texas pass strict abortion bans, it’s crucial that Congress protect women’s reproductive freedom and choice. The Women’s Health Protection Act is a necessary law that will remove many of the barriers women face in accessing health services. Congress must pass this law to end restrictive state anti-abortion laws. “
The coalition, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, argues that while lawmakers in many states can claim that the laws they enact are passed to promote women’s health, the reality is that those laws are simply designed. to restrict access to abortion services. and, more often than not, lead to poorer health outcomes for women. These include laws requiring doctors to have admitting privileges in hospitals and setting arbitrary requirements in women’s health clinics with respect to the size of operating rooms and hallways. The proliferation of these restrictions has had a negative impact on women’s health – disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color, while simultaneously creating a lack of national coherence that strains women’s health systems. States. More importantly, any law that places an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is unconstitutional.
The Women’s Health Protection Act targets those state laws that were passed as part of a concerted strategy to restrict access to abortion across the country. In Whole woman’s health c. Hellerstedt, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law that required abortion service providers to maintain admitting privileges to a local hospital did not advance women’s health and imposed a undue burden on women seeking abortion. Additionally, last year a coalition of attorneys general helped secure yet another victory in June Medical Services v. Gee, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a similar law in Louisiana was unconstitutional.
As more states attempt to pass new laws that restrict women’s reproductive freedoms with medically unnecessary restrictions, new court challenges continue to be filed – a process that can often take years. This is why the coalition is now urging Congress to pass the WHPA to ensure that such restrictions are not imposed in the first place.
The consequences of these laws are already evident across the country. Research from 2017 found that 38% of women ages 15 to 44 live in counties without a single abortion clinic. Additionally, as of June 2019, six states had only one abortion clinic left. As providers close due to the impact of medically unnecessary restrictions, women are likely to be forced to travel further and make greater sacrifices to access care. The burden of living in a state with limited access to abortion care often falls disproportionately on low-income women who cannot afford to travel, take time off work, or find childcare for a while. that they visit their nearest supplier.
The coalition goes on to say that laws specifically aimed at restricting abortion providers have repeatedly been shown to lead to worse health outcomes for women, including:
- Increase in maternal mortality rates,
- Delayed abortions, along with the increased health risks and costs for women who are too far from an abortion provider,
- The business of dangerous “black market” or self-induced abortions by some women, and
- A four times higher risk of developing life-threatening health problems for women who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term, as well as a significantly higher likelihood of experiencing physical violence from violent partners or members of the family family.
The Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and District of Columbia join Attorney General Tong and James in bringing this testimony to Congress.