WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Senate colleagues to reintroduce the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act. This legislation would protect abortion providers in states like Colorado — where abortion remains legal — from Republicans’ attempts to restrict their practice and create uncertainty about their legal liability.
“The Dobbs decision endangers women and their doctors,” said Hickenlooper. “Reproductive health care rights belong to women and we’re fighting to keep it that way.”
“It’s outrageous that states have passed laws that threaten doctors with lawsuits and jail time for providing abortion care where it is legal,” said Bennet. “In the wake of Dobbs, Colorado has become a safe haven for women seeking reproductive health care, and this bill ensures doctors in Colorado and other states where abortion is legal can continue to care for their patients without fear of prosecution.”
“MAGA Republicans’ nonstop attacks on a woman’s right to choose have created a climate of fear, confusion, and suffering—and have had a chilling effect on the lifesaving work abortion providers do even in states where abortion remains legal,” said Murray. “Our bill is a necessary and commonsense step to protect doctors providing legal abortion care and ensure that doctors in states like Washington can continue to provide essential care without being threatened with jail time or lawsuits by out-of-state extremists.”
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 solely because of legal health services offered to patients.
Immediately after the Dobbs decision, Hickenlooper and Bennet joined their colleagues to push President Joe Biden to pursue “bold action” to protect the right to abortion. Later that month, they joined their colleagues in urging the Department of Defense to take immediate steps to support and protect service members seeking abortion services.
Last Congress, Hickenlooper and Bennet joined their Democratic colleagues in introducing the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to clarify that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel across state lines for reproductive health care, and to empower the U.S. Attorney General and affected individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict the right to access care.
In addition to Hickenlooper, Bennet, and Murray, the legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján, Alex Padilla, Jacky Rosen, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Ben Cardin, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth, Dick Durbin, Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Amy Klobuchar, Bob Menendez, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Jack Reed, Tina Smith, Bernie Sanders, Debbie Stabenow, Chris Van Hollen, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden.
The legislation is supported by: Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, Power to Decide, National Council of Jewish Women, National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and NARAL.
The text of the bill is available HERE. A summary is available HERE.