We know that the past year has been brutal for access to abortion care, with legislative attacks at the state level reaching historic highs. However, there have been some crucial wins in the fight to protect access! Here are a few:
On Wednesday, October 6th, a federal judge in West Texas issued a temporary injunction on the enforcement of SB 8, an unconstitutional six-week ban that also allows anyone—including anti-abortion vigilantes—to enforce the ban by suing abortion providers and anyone who helps a person obtain an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. This ruling is a result of a lawsuit against Texas from the Department of Justice. The DOJ noted that it is unprecedented for a state government to allow private individuals to infringe on individuals’ rights, and that this law is a direct violation of Supreme Court precedent.
For 36 days, SB 8 denied millions of Texans their constitutional right to abortion, causing untold harm to Texans seeking abortion care – particularly for communities that already experience significant barriers to accessing care. While this injunction remains in place, no lawsuits under SB 8 may be filed or accepted.
Unfortunately, this injunction is just temporary- and the State of Texas has already filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit. And even with SB 8 blocked, Texans still face often insurmountable barriers to care due to medically unnecessary restrictions such as bans on abortion coverage, waiting periods, parental notification, and more. This is why we need our elected officials at the federal level to step in and protect access to abortion care for everyone in the United States.
On September 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) in a historic win for reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates. WHPA creates a statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and an equal right for patients to receive abortion care, without restrictions or bans. Now, WHPA goes to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to bring it to the floor for a vote. Tell your Senators to pass the WHPA now!
Finally, last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final Title X rule, which overturns a Trump-era rule that denied Title X funding (federal family planning grants) to health care centers that offered unbiased options counseling, including abortion referrals. As a result, over 1,300 health centers will now be able to receive Title X funding once more. This goes into effect on November 8, 2021. Thank you to all of the leaders and advocates who spearheaded efforts to overturn this rule, including RHAP supporters who helped submit comments to HHS!