Attorney General Tong Urges Federal Legislation to Protect Reproductive Healthcare
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong this week joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposing a series of actions to protect access to reproductive health care in the wake of the leaked draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturning Roe v. Wade.
“We must be prepared to respond to the devastating impact that the Dobbs decision will likely have on the rights and safety of women and patients nationwide. This is just the beginning of what we know will be a coordinated right-wing campaign to systematically dismantle well-established rights and criminalize the personal and professional decisions of women and doctors. I am coordinating closely with attorneys general nationwide to be as aggressive, united, and proactive as we can be to fight back. I know our Connecticut Congressional Delegation is doing the same every day with their counterparts. We must be clear-eyed and realistic about how bad this will be, and what it will take to defend and rebuild the protections that Americans have taken for granted for generations,” said Attorney General Tong.
“The right to choose abortion under Roe has not guaranteed access to abortion care in practice. We urge you to continue to work toward protecting the right to an abortion, and to expeditiously take steps to protect access to reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible,” the letter states.
Legislative proposals include:
• Requiring insurance plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion.
• Eliminating the rider in the appropriations bill that prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds for abortion services.
• Eliminating the Hyde Amendment from the federal budget that prohibits Medicare and Medicaid funds from being used to cover abortion, even when the patient’s health is at risk.
• Affirming that those who receive abortion care services through federal agencies including the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Indian Health Service can have abortion care paid for as part of their health insurance. TRICARE for example only provides abortion coverage in situations where the pregnancy is the “result of an act of rape or incest” or “the life of the mother would be endangered.”
• Establishing a federal program to provide funding to non-profit organizations that assist with travel costs and childcare needs for those seeking abortions.
• Protecting access to medication abortion approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
• Expressly permit the use of the U.S. Postal Service to distribute FDA-approved abortion-related medications.
• Strengthening data privacy laws to protect the privacy of those seeking reproductive care, including use of period-tracking apps and other sensitive data to enforce state laws criminalizing access to abortion, and banning geofencing and use of local data to target people near reproductive health care clinics.
• Passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. State laws criminalizing abortion could also have a direct impact on voting rights, particularly in states that deny voting rights to people with felony convictions.
“This is a non-exhaustive list of critical areas for policy and statutory changes to improve protections for people seeking to access reproductive health care nationwide. We urge you to ensure that comprehensive reproductive health care is accessible to every person in this country without fear of repercussions. The right to bodily autonomy is essential to realizing justice. We must urgently push for reproductive justice and fight back against any efforts to overturn essential civil rights—now and into the future,” the letter states.