Press Release

Welch Joins 48 Senate Colleagues in Introducing Legislation to Restore and Protect Americans’ Right to an Abortion Nationwide

Mar 14, 2023

The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 is the comprehensive response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, would restore reproductive rights to millions of wome

WASHINGTON –Today, Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and 45 other Senate colleagues in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023, legislation to guarantee a federal right to abortion. The bill’s introduction follows the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which repealed Roe v. Wade and eliminated a constitutional right to abortion. Since the Dobbs decision, 14 states have already implemented near-total abortion bans, leaving one in three American women without access to abortion care. Additionally, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to impose medically unnecessary restrictions that limit access to abortion care. 

The Women’s Health Protection Act creates federal rights for patients and providers to protect abortion access and creates federal protections against medically unnecessary restrictions that undermine Americans’ access to health care and intrude upon personal decision-making. 

“The decision to have an abortion is a personal health care choice. It’s a decision that should be made by women and their doctors – not by politicians,” said Senator Peter Welch (D-VT). “Congress has to act and put that choice back in the hands of women. We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and restore abortion rights nationwide.”  

“Right now, in Wisconsin and across the country, Americans are being denied their right to control their bodies, families, and futures. In Wisconsin, women are living in 1849, where a near-total abortion ban that pre-dates the Civil War is in effect that is putting women’s health and well-being in jeopardy,” said Senator Baldwin. “Every American deserves the freedom to make their own health care decisions without interference from politicians, and Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree. The Women’s Health Protection Act is a necessary step to restore Americans’ constitutional right to choose what’s best for their families and allow doctors to do the job they are trained to do – all free from medically unnecessary restrictions.” 
“The Women’s Health Protection Act would reverse the death sentence handed down to American women when the Supreme Court overturned fifty years of precedent in Roe,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The heart of the Women’s Health Protection Act is reproductive justice – the fundamental right to safely choose if or when to have children, and the freedom to make that choice no matter who you are or where you live. It will reverse the draconian and devastating bans and restrictions that fall on all women, and disproportionately on Black and Latina people, individuals with lower incomes, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and so many others who face barriers to care. This issue is about more than health care; it is about women’s rights, individual rights, and human rights.” 

The Dobbs decision has threatened the rights of millions of Americans to make their own health care decisions. Patients are being denied or delayed access to necessary and potentially life-saving treatment, including for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage management, because of new legal risks to providers. The harms caused by these abortion restrictions fall heaviest on populations that already experience inequities, including people with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, people of color, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, and those living in rural and other medically underserved areas. 

“Republicans have ushered in a crisis—a nightmare for women, for patients, and for doctors alike—with their nonstop attacks on every woman’s reproductive rights. They’ve passed one extreme abortion ban after the next, and as they fail to convince the American people to get on board with their extreme agenda, they’ve tried to force it on women across the country with threats, intimidation, and outrageous lawsuits,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “Democrats refuse to accept that any patient’s right to control their own body depends on the state they live in or the money in their bank account. That’s why Democrats are reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act today to put an end to this madness and restore every woman in America’s right to control her own body.”  

The Women’s Health Protection Act would: 

  1. Prohibit states from imposing restrictions that jeopardize access to abortion earlier in pregnancy, including many of the state-level restrictions in place prior to Dobbs, such as arbitrary waiting periods, medically unnecessary mandatory ultrasounds, or requirements to provide medically inaccurate information.  
  2. Ensure that later in pregnancy, states cannot limit access to abortion if it would jeopardize the life or health of the mother.  
  3. Protect the ability to travel out of state for an abortion, which has become increasingly common in recent years. 

A full list of co-sponsors and bill text is available here

A one-pager on the bill is available here