Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Friday that Congress must pass federal laws to protect access to birth control and reproductive care as Republican-controlled states continue to pass restrictive anti-abortion legislation.
The Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate posted on Medium explaining the kind of federal laws that should be in place if challenges from states with anti-abortion laws lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that ensures a woman’s right to an abortion.
“Court challenges will continue. And the next President can begin to undo some of the damage by appointing neutral and fair judges who actually respect the law and cases like Roe instead of right-wing ideologues bent on rolling back constitutional rights,” Warren wrote. “But separate from these judicial fights, Congress has a role to play as well.”
The senator said Congress must create federal, statutory rights that parallel Roe v. Wade’s constitutional rights. These rights would include barring states from interfering in a provider’s ability to offer medical care or blocking patients’ access to such care, including abortions. This would invalidate state laws like those in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio.
Warren also proposed that Congress pass laws to preempt states’ efforts to limit reproductive health care in ways that don’t necessarily violate Roe v. Wade. Such efforts include restrictions on medication abortion and geographical and procedural requirements that make it nearly impossible for a woman to get an abortion.
Congress must also repeal the Hyde Amendment, which blocks abortion coverage for women under federally funded health care programs like Medicaid, Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service, according to Warren. She added that conversations about reproductive health access and coverage should include immigrant women.
To ensure equal access to reproductive health care, the senator said Congress must end President Donald Trump’s gag rule on abortion clinics and support Title X funding for family planning. She added that lawmakers must also prevent violence at clinics and discrimination based on women’s choices about their own bodies.
“The women of color who have championed the reproductive justice movement teach us that we must go beyond choice to ensure meaningful access for every woman in America ― not just the privileged and wealthy few,” Warren wrote, adding that Congress must “ensure access to contraception, STI prevention and care, comprehensive sex education, care for pregnant moms, safe home and work environments, adequate wages, and so much more.”
Warren’s push for reproductive health legislation comes as Republicans in Alabama passed the nation’s strictest abortion law, banning the procedure at every stage of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape and incest. The Missouri Senate just passed its own restrictive bill, and Georgia recently signed into law a so-called “heartbeat bill” that bars abortions so early into a pregnancy that some women might not know they’re pregnant.
These states are intentionally setting themselves up for a potential Supreme Court battle, in which they hope the conservative-leaning court will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. About 18 states have laws that could restrict abortion if the decision is overturned, including bans that will be “triggered” and take effect automatically, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
“This is a dark moment. People are scared and angry. And they are right to be,” Warren wrote. “But this isn’t a moment to back down ― it’s time to fight back.”