Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in the introduction of the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act—a bill to protect health care providers from Republicans’ attacks on reproductive freedoms and ensure they can safely provide abortion care in states where it is still legal, including Oregon. This week, Senators will take to the Senate floor to seek unanimous consent to pass the legislation.
Republicans’ nonstop attacks against women’s reproductive freedom have long targeted doctors and care providers, with state laws like Texas’ SB8 allowing for anyone to bring a lawsuit against a health professional who provides abortion care. In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, these attacks have only increased—with Republican state legislators drafting legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion on a state resident even in another state where abortion is legal. Abortion providers are already facing nonstop attacks from Republican politicians.
The Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act will help protect against these attacks, ensuring that providers in states where abortion remains legal are shielded from any efforts to restrict their practice or create uncertainty about their legal liability.
“The freedom to be in control of your own body is an essential freedom, and it’s so crucial that medical decisions be made by individuals and whomever they may choose to consult—not by extremist politicians,” said Merkley. “Today, we are in a struggle with an extremist minority that wants to control you, your body, and your life. This bill protects doctors and other professionals who provide reproductive health care, including abortions, and ensures patients can get care in a timely and safe manner. Quite frankly, this bill will save lives, and it’s essential that we get it passed.”
“In the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning the right to a safe and legal abortion, fanatics are now targeting doctors and care providers just doing what they were trained to do — providing life-saving reproductive health care,” said Wyden. “This bill would protect those providers from the extremists plotting to attack the right for patients to make decisions about their own bodies.”
The Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act will ensure that providers in states where abortion remains legal are protected from any efforts to restrict their practice or create uncertainty about their legal liability. Specifically, the bill will:
- Protect health care providers in states where abortion is legal from being subject to laws that try to prevent them from providing reproductive health care services or make them liable for providing those services to patients from any other state. These protections could be enforced by a federal lawsuit from the Department of Justice, a patient, or a provider, ensuring a future Department of Justice could not turn a blind eye to state laws that violate these protections;
- Prohibit any federal funds from being used to pursue legal cases against individuals who access legal reproductive health care services or against health care providers in states where abortion is legal;
- Create a new grant program at the Department of Justice to fund legal assistance or legal education for reproductive health care service providers;
- Create a new grant program at the Department of Health and Human Services to support reproductive health care service providers in obtaining physical, cyber, or data privacy security upgrades necessary to protect their practice and patients; and
- Protect reproductive health care providers from being denied professional liability insurance coverage because of legal services offered to patients.
In addition to Senators Merkley, Wyden, Murray, Luján, Padilla, and Rosen, the legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Bennet (D-CO), Markey (D-MA), Stabenow (D-MI), Heinrich (D-NM), Blumenthal (D-CT), Warren (D-MA), Smith (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), Cardin (D-MD), Menendez (D-NJ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Murphy (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Whitehouse (D-RI), Hirono (D-HI), Sanders (I-VT), and Duckworth (D-IL).
The bill has been endorsed by: Dr. Caitlin Bernard, Physicians for Reproductive Health, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Catholics for Choice, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Council of Jewish Women.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
A one-page summary can be found here.