Senator Elizabeth Warren rolled out a comprehensive strategy for protecting the right to an abortion on Friday. In a Medium post, Warren condemned the Trump administration for working “to gag doctors, spread misinformation, and support so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ that go out of their way to present misleading and incomplete reproductive health care information to women.”
Warren’s announcement comes days after Republican legislators in Alabama passed a total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. Though the law is currently invalid, and women in Alabama can still access abortion, the ban is designed to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices could overturn or at least severely hamstring Roe v. Wade. There are no anti-choice Democrats running for president, and candidates were swift to criticize the Alabama bill and other new abortion restrictions in Georgia, Ohio, and elsewhere. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released her own proposal on Thursday after meeting with lawmakers and activists in Georgia, and Senator Bernie Sanders also used his email list to raise money for three abortion funds, including the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama.
But Warren’s proposal is notable for its exclusive focus on the expansion of abortion rights. In it, the senator urges Congress to create “federal, statutory rights” to abortion that block states from “interfering” with either a doctor’s provision of abortion care or a patient’s ability to access that care. Warren further urged passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which has already been introduced in Congress. The act would overturn state-level obstacles to abortion, like Alabama’s law forcing women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before they can receive abortions. She called for the repeal of the global gag rule, which blocks non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from providing or even referring women to abortion care, and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits publicly-funded health care coverage like Medicaid from covering abortion. She closed by endorsing the EACH Woman Act, which would prohibit private insurance companies from refusing to cover abortion services. The overarching goal is to protect the right to abortion from erosion at both the legislative and judicial levels.
Republicans from President Trump to state lawmakers have already escalated their usual anti-abortion rhetoric; Trump, for example, has now repeatedly and falsely claimed that abortion providers kill babies after birth. The president, then, might use Warren’s abortion policies as grounds for a fresh round of attacks on her candidacy. But that might only help Warren. Most Americans still overwhelmingly oppose abortion bans, and Warren’s proposals may resonate with older Democrats in particular. The senator, who had her first child two years before Roe v. Wade guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion, deliberately evokes the bad old days in her post. “When I was growing up, long before Roe, people still got abortions. Some were lucky. Others weren’t. They all went through hell,” she wrote.
The original version of this post stated that Warren was the first candidate to release an abortion proposal. This post has been corrected.