June 06, 2019

They Belong to Us

Women have a right to self-governance of their own bodies. Congress has the power to make that a reality.

by Susan E. Stutz

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Andrea Arroyo: The Dancer

On January 21, 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun delivered the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, recognizing a women’s right to the governance of her own reproductive system. Despite Roe and the multitude of cases that have since been decided and have affirmed a women’s right to choose, the war on women’s reproductive rights has raged ever on. In the intervening 46 years since Roe was decided, approximately 1,200 pieces of legislation have been enacted nationwide with the express aim of restricting a women’s access to abortion. As of May 31, 2019, there have been 27 abortion bans enacted across 12 states this year.

At the same time that restrictive legislation is making its way through our states, there are two bills pending in Congress that could bring an end to state interference with a woman’s right to an abortion. These pieces of legislation have the potential to end the fight over freedom of choice and to finally recognize a woman’s right to be the arbiter of her own body.

Women’s Health Protection Act

With the support of more than 200 Senators and Representatives, H.R. 448 prohibits the establishment of state law that hinders a woman’s ability to exercise her constitutionally protected right to obtain an abortion. The bill also limits how states can restrict abortion, striking state laws that require extraneous tests, additional appointments at far-flung clinics, and unnecessary waiting periods between medical appointments.

EACH Woman Act

With more than 100 sponsors across both the House and the Senate, H.R. 771 would lift the restrictions put in place by the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal money to pay for abortion coverage (except for extremely limited cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment) for people who are covered by Medicaid or Medicare. Because of inequalities which are linked to systemic racism and discrimination, women of color are disproportionately subject to the Hyde Amendment’s ban on abortion coverage.

Weigh In

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