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Sen. Richard Blumenthal speaks at a USDA event at a Connecticut elementary school.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Republican-controlled states like Texas keep passing restrictive laws intended to make abortion unobtainable—if they can't outright ban it, they'll close clinics, force women to go through medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and raise the costs in money and time to the point where few women actually have much of a choice. Now, a group of congressional Democrats are introducing a federal law designed to combat these state laws:
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will introduce the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013, joined by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). The bill would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, and create other barriers to abortion access. [...]

Blumenthal's bill wouldn't automatically overturn states' existing anti-abortion laws, but because federal law trumps state law, it would provide a means to challenge them in court. The bill would direct judges to consider certain factors in determining whether a restriction is legal, such as whether it interferes with a doctor's good-faith medical judgment, or whether it's likely to interfere with or delay women's access to abortion.

Congress hasn't passed a bill to protect abortion access since 1994, and as more and more states have attacked that access, the right to choose needs added legal protection. But this bill, like a minimum wage increase, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and so many other important pieces of legislation coming from Democrats since 2011, has no chance of getting a vote in John Boehner's House. So it stands as a reminder of what Democrats could do with majorities in both chambers of Congress.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:05 AM PST.

Also republished by Abortion, Pro Choice, This Week in the War on Women, and Daily Kos.

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