Press Release

Ahead of Roe v. Wade Anniversary, Welch Calls for Passage of Legislation to Restore and Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care, Abortion, and Birth Control

Jan 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other colleagues at an abortion rights briefing ahead of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to discuss Senate Democrats’ fight to pass federal legislation to protect reproductive rights. The Senator highlighted Vermont’s action to enshrine personal reproductive liberty in its state constitution and emphasized the significant impact of anti-abortion legislation introduced and enacted by many Republican-leaning states after the Dobbs decision. 

The Senators heard from and asked questions of a panel that included Dr. Austin Dennard, a Texas OB/GYN and patient plaintiff in the Zurawski v. Texas case who was forced to leave her state for abortion care after receiving a fatal fetal diagnosis that threatened her health; Jessica Valenti, founder of the comprehensive daily newsletter Abortion Every Day; and Dr. Serina Floyd, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. 

“Our U.S. Supreme Court has totally failed us. In the name of ‘state rights,’ they have taken away freedom and caused distress and uncertainty for women across the country. It’s outrageous that because of this Court and this decision, women have fewer reproductive rights than they did fifty years ago. The choice to have an abortion is deeply personal and now, in many states, it’s in the hands of judges and legislators,” said Sen. Welch. “Women deserve to know their reproductive health care and access to abortion won’t change when they cross state lines—they need consistent, federal standards and protections. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade I’m continuing to call on Congress to pass legislation that will restore, protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive care nationwide.” 

Right now, 21 states ban abortion or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade—14 states enforce total bans on abortion care, and seven more restrict access under limits that would have been unconstitutional under Roe. As a result, almost 18 million women of reproductive age no longer have access to abortion care in their state of residence. In some states, the fight over abortion access is still taking place in courtrooms, where advocates have sued to block bans and restrictions. The chaotic legal landscape around abortion care is disruptive for providers trying to offer care and patients trying to obtain it. 

This Congress, Senate Democrats attempted to pass four common-sense bills: the Right to Contraception Act, the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act, and the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act—all of which were blocked by Senate Republicans. 

Senator Welch is a cosponsor of legislation to protect and expand reproductive rights, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2023, Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, Right to Contraception Act, Affordability is Access Act, Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act, Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act, and the Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Reproductive Care Act of 2023. 

Last year, Sen. Welch joined 49 Senate Democrats and 207 Members of the House of Representatives in signing an amicus brief in support of the Department of Justice’s petition for U.S. Supreme Court consideration of FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. Sen. Welch also supported a resolution in support of equitable, science-based policies governing access to medication abortion, and joined 37 Senate Democrats in sending a letter to the Department of Defense reaffirming their commitment to the Pentagon’s reproductive health care policies and underscoring the national security imperatives tied to protecting leave for related services. 

Watch a recording of the event here