January 05, 2016

Democrats File Amicus Brief Standing Up for Women’s Access to Constitutionally Protected Health Care

Wyden leads 162 members of the Senate and House in urging the Supreme Court to uphold women’s constitutionally protected reproductive freedom in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole

Washington, D.C.Today, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Representatives Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Marc Veasey, D-Texas, led a group of 155 Democrats and 2 Independents in filing an amicus brief in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. The case is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States and represents the most comprehensive challenge to the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Roe v. Wade in nearly a decade.

In the brief, Democrats call on the justices to uphold Roe v. Wade and reject efforts to undermine a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own choices about her own body.

“As a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, and one that strikes at the heart of ordered liberty and individual autonomy […] a woman’s right to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term or to seek critical medical services, including abortion, should be insulated from the shifting political rhetoric and interest groups whose sole purpose is to erode the right to choose to bring a pregnancy to term afforded to women under Roe,” members of Congress wrote in the brief

Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole addresses the impact of Texas’s 2013 extreme anti-abortion law, known as HB2. This law imposes requirements designed to make it harder for women to exercise their constitutionally protected reproductive rights. The lead petitioner in the case, Whole Woman’s Health, is the sole remaining abortion clinic in Texas’s vast Rio Grande Valley, and would be forced to close if HB2 were allowed to take effect. If the Supreme Court upholds HB2, the number of health care clinics providing abortions in Texas would drop by more than 75 percent to ten clinics statewide. Additionally, 900,000 women of childbearing age would be forced to drive more than 300 miles to get an abortion.

Texas is not alone. Fourteen states have laws in place that impose restrictions on doctors and clinics similar to those in Texas. More than half of states now have Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, also known as TRAP, laws and policies on the books that undermine women’s constitutionally protected rights under Roe.

The amicus brief highlights how extreme state laws like HB2 have worked to erode women’s constitutionally protected health care rights, and urges the Supreme Court to continue to uphold women’s rights as affirmed under Roe v. Wade and protected under Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Senate cosigners include Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tom Carper, D-Del., Chris Coons, D-Del., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Al Franken, D-Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Angus King, I-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bill Nelson, D-Fl., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Harry Reid, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Jon Tester, D-Mt., Mark Warner, D-Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

Read the amicus brief here.