Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday unveiled a series of steps to defend abortion rights and reproductive health care, citing strict new curbs on abortion recently imposed in states including Alabama. The plan relies heavily on Congress to pass laws that protect access to reproductive health services, including policies blocking states from interfering a health provider’s ability to give care.
What would the plan do?
Warren would call on Congress to pass laws enshrining the right to an abortion that would preempt any state attempt to ban the procedure or impose onerous regulations on abortion providers. She would also push for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, a long-time prohibition on federal funding for abortion and sign executive orders rolling back recent Trump administration moves aimed at cutting Planned Parenthood out of the Title X family planning program.
How would it work?
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Warren argues that congressional action laying out concrete protections for abortion rights will insure those rights no matter what the Supreme Court does and no matter what restrictions conservative states try to enact, since federal law trumps state law. She says Congress should take up the Women’s Health Protection Act, which bans states from interfering with the ability of a health care provider to offer abortion services or interfering with the ability of a patient to access an abortion. She also calls for passage of the EACH Woman Act, which prohibits abortion restrictions in private insurance.
Repealing the Hyde amendment, meanwhile, would allow people covered by Medicaid, the VA, the Indian Health Service or federal employee plans to have abortions covered. And canceling the Trump administration’s Title X rule would restore funding to clinics across the country that provide both abortions as well as contraception and other reproductive health services.
What are the weaknesses in the proposal?
Almost all of Warren’s plan depends on electing a Congress favorable to abortion rights, which is far from a given. Democrats face a difficult Senate map in 2020 and have struggled to recruit strong candidates in a number of key states. And to pass Warren’s proposals, Democrats would have to flip more seats than are needed to win a bare majority, since a handful of moderate caucus members, including Sens. Bob Casey and Joe Manchin, are unlikely to support them.
What have other Democrats proposed?
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand released her own pledge earlier this week to repeal the Hyde amendment, enshrine Roe v. Wade’s protections into federal law, make federal funding available to insure access to abortion in every state and only nominate federal judges committed to upholding Roe v. Wade.
Sen. Cory Booker has also promised to work for the passage of a law that guarantees legal abortion nationwide, repeal the Hyde amendment and undo the Trump administration’s rule allowing employers to opt of out of providing insurance coverage for contraception.
Who would it help?
Warren’s plan would guarantee abortion access to the tens of millions of women in the 18 states that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is struck down by the Supreme Court. The repeal of the Hyde amendment would also allow millions of low-income women enrolled in public insurance programs to no longer pay for abortions out of pocket.
Who opposes it?
Conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups who oppose abortion have called the pledges to repeal the Hyde amendment extreme and say U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions.