I was 18 years old when the U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions in Roe v. Wade. If you’ve only known an America where abortion was safe and legal, it can be hard to comprehend the suffering women endured before Roe. But in this country – the wealthiest nation on earth – women died without access to basic reproductive health care. I never thought that in my 66th year, politicians and partisan judges would turn back the clock to that dark time and strip women of their constitutional protections.

Texas Abortion Enforcement

Jillian Dworin participates in a Sept. 1 protest against the six-week abortion ban, at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. By denying an emergency request to block the ban, the U.S. Supreme Court has paved the way for a complete rollback of Roe v. Wade. Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File

Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block Texas’ SB 8 – a draconian law that ends almost all abortion access in Texas. In failing to stand up for its own legal precedent, the court has opened the floodgates for a total rollback of Roe v. Wade. Without explicitly saying so, the five justices who made this decision effectively overturned the 1973 decision.

SB 8 is so extreme that it denies abortion care to women at six weeks, which is before many women even know they are pregnant; it provides no exemptions for cases of rape or incest, and it allows an Uber or Lyft driver to be sued simply for driving a woman to an abortion provider. In fact, any individual who aids a woman to medically terminate her pregnancy can be civilly sued and bankrupted. This ghoulish design by Texas legislators is intended to scare Texans into submission. Make no mistake: Texas’ law drags us back to a time when women weren’t trusted to decide their own future. And already, with a green light from the Supreme Court, governors and legislators in other red states are vowing to enact laws modeled after Texas’.

Yet, what happened in Texas wasn’t a sudden, overnight assault on women’s health.

The bill signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the culmination of a decades-long, extremist campaign waged by anti-women’s health political operatives to erode our constitutional rights, state legislature by state legislature, using targeted restrictions on abortion providers laws. TRAP laws are expensive and medically unnecessary requirements imposed on abortion providers and women’s health centers, which are written with precision to undermine Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile, there has also been a generations-long strategic effort by Republican politicians to pack the courts with rightwing jurists who believe the government should make a woman’s health care decisions. Their end goal has always been criminalizing a woman’s control over her own body.

Remember President Donald Trump’s judicial litmus test? He told the nation he would only appoint justices who would strike down Roe and said that women who get abortions should be “punished.” The Senate confirmed all three of Trump’s anti-women’s health justices. Now, American women are feeling the ruinous result of those confirmations. The Supreme Court today is at its most partisan in over a century. The justices discarded a near-half-century precedent without a second thought. I have little doubt they overturned Roe v. Wade quietly in hopes that Americans would not notice.

But we noticed.

Radical campaigns to implement TRAP laws and pack the courts have gone on for too long. It is time for Congress to act to counter the poisonous politicization of our courts.

To start, I have cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act. This legislation would protect abortion access nationwide and keep the government out of our personal health decisions. The bill would finally codify into law the protections established in Roe v. Wade and the landmark Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision of 1992. This law would make it harder for politically inclined judges to attack these rights in the future.

The Women’s Health Protection Act also includes provisions that would prevent states from enacting restrictions on abortion, effectively overturning Texas’ SB 8. States would still have the power to regulate health care, but it would prevent them from imposing discriminatory restrictions on abortion care. The Women’s Health Protection Act would also prevent TRAP laws, which drive up abortion care costs, make abortions unsafe or more difficult to access, and prevent abortion clinics from operating.

The House will soon vote on this bill. But it isn’t enough. I strongly support President Biden’s drive to confirm as many qualified judges to our federal courts as possible to balance the court-packing that happened under Donald Trump. Our laws must be interpreted by neutral jurists driven by fact and precedent, not partisans bent on attacking our constitutional rights.

We cannot close our eyes to the fact that a denial of abortion rights anywhere in this country is a threat to the health of women everywhere. That’s why I will proudly vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act when it comes to the House floor this week. Abortion access is essential health care guaranteed under our constitution. We must save Roe v. Wade. We cannot and will not go back.


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