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NNEDV Reacts to the U.S. Senate’s Failure to Advance the Women’s Health Protection Act

May 11, 2022

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is deeply disappointed the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) (S. 4132) failed to advance in the U.S. Senate today. WHPA would create a federal law protecting abortion access from bans and restrictions nationwide. Abortion services are essential healthcare and having equal access—for all people, everywhere—is vital to their social and economic participation, reproductive autonomy, and the right to determine their own lives. For domestic violence survivors, abortion access is a matter of safety.

“The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure the right to an abortion and protections for those providing that care. Such federal protections are even more important following the leak of a draft majority opinion indicating that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right of privacy. NNEDV is deeply disappointed this legislation failed to advance in the Senate to even allow a vote on its merits.  We are also gravely concerned about the consequences of the possible Supreme Court action if Congress does not act immediately to protect access to abortion,” said Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President & CEO.

“Although abortion remains legal, for now, congressional action is critical to ensure people nationwide have the right to bodily autonomy and ability to control their own reproductive destiny. State bans and restrictions will be particularly devastating for low-income survivors, survivors of color, survivors with disabilities, and others who already face substantial barriers to accessing the healthcare they need. Without access to abortion care, domestic violence survivors are at risk of reproductive coercion. All people, including domestic violence survivors, deserve full control over their lives and choices, including the ability to safely and freely choose whether or not to become, or stay, pregnant,” said Vagins.

Domestic violence is about power and control, and many abusers choose to weaponize a partner’s bodily autonomy and reproductive choices as tools of violence. Preventing a partner from having an abortion is abuse, and forcing a partner to stay pregnant is, unfortunately, an effective way of keeping them dependent and trapped in the relationship itself. When survivors are able to choose for themselves whether to continue pregnancies, they are safely able to leave abusers and create new lives for themselves. If pregnant domestic violence survivors cannot access abortion care, they may experience further suffering or die at the hands of an abuser.

With so much at stake, Congress must act swiftly to protect every person’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies. NNEDV is proud to be part of coalitions of organizations supporting the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act and we are committed to working towards racial, economic, and reproductive justice for all. Read more here.

NNEDV was also honored to join an amicus brief in the case at issue currently before the Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Read more here.