The Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have protected abortion access and removed medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion, such as mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds, failed to pass the U.S. Senate after a 46-48 procedural vote on Feb. 28.
The legislation would have created a statutory right for health care providers to offer abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care. The legislation was co-sponsored by Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, and Rep. Jason Crow, and Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet.
The Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced in response to Texas’ abortion law, which bans all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
“On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the Texas six-week abortion ban known as SB8, it has never been more important to codify the constitutional right and to strengthen health care access for all people,” said COLOR Action Fund’s President, Dusti Gurule, in a news release. “The Women’s Health Protection Act would have been a historic vote in order to ensure our right to access abortion free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans on abortion to abortion.”
In addition to states like Texas enacting draconian anti-abortion legislation, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional, that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“If Roe v. Wade is either eviscerated or overturned, roughly 26 states are poised to, more or less immediately, ban abortion in those states,” said Jaki Lawrence, the strategic comms director for COBALT in a Feb. 16 interview. “There’s absolutely a real sense of urgency to make sure we either pass proactive legislation, like the Reproductive Health Equity Act that Colorado is running to protect abortion rights in the state, but also to defeat these sorts of measures since we can no longer rely on the court to protect the right to abortion access.”
In Colorado, Democratic state legislators have announced plans to introduce the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which will enshrine abortion access under Colorado law.
“Tonight’s vote is disappointing, but we won’t stop fighting for access to abortion,” said Christina Soliz, Political Director at COLOR Action Fund, in a news release. “This is why in Colorado, we are urging our legislators to continue to support the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) so that our right to abortion is protected under a statute in the state.”