Women's Health Protection Act of 2021

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 24, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, what we are seeing in Texas, Mississippi, and elsewhere is an unprecedented attack on Americans' right to abortion care. It is a systemic effort by politicians who want to roll back the clock on women's healthcare freedom in this country.

To those who continue to rehash the same outdated arguments that would put their own personal beliefs on millions of women, and they say it is somehow good for America, I say, save your breath. It is not.

And for these overheated claims that are being made today on this floor and the rhetoric, I say that is simply not the case.

Madam Speaker, let me suggest a different paradigm that protects the full range of women's healthcare freedom in this country. I will decide what happens to my body, and you decide what happens to yours. I will decide what is best for my health and my life, and you decide what is best for yours.

What is at stake in this fight is not some frivolous benefit. It is the fundamental right of women across the country to decide. Vote ``yes'' on this important bill.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Adams).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, may I inquire as to the time remaining on both sides.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Crist).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Washington State (Ms. Jayapal).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Garcia).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Georgia (Mrs. McBath).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from New Hampshire (Mr. Pappas).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. Pressley), an original cosponsor of this legislation.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from New Jersey (Ms. Sherrill).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Jones).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from New Mexico (Ms. Leger Fernandez).

Ms. LEGER FERNANDEZ. Madam Speaker, New Mexico is a border state with Texas. Because of the extreme abortion ban, our Texas hermanas are driving hours to receive abortion care in New Mexico.

We are receiving women's rights refugees with open arms, hearts, and open clinics. To deputize complete strangers to interfere with a woman's health choice is constitutionally, medically, and morally wrong.

Many minority, LGBTQ, and low-income women can't afford to travel and access quality healthcare. Let's pass the Women's Health Protection Act so that we can protect women's freedom in every State.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Manning).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Georgia (Ms. Williams).


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, S.B. 8 will kill women. It is a dangerous, dangerous depriving of our constitutional rights, but it will kill women. It is a bill that provides a provision that I have never seen in my lifetime living in the United States of America, a free Nation.

It actually sets a bounty, reminiscent of eras of dastardly life in this country, the slave life; a bounty in order to stalk a woman to ensure that the provider does not give and the woman does not get an abortion.

I support this legislation because it upholds the Constitution, and I look forward to my bill on preventing vigilante stalking being passed.

Madam Speaker, as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security; a member of the Democratic Working Women's Task Force, the representative of 700,000 highly interested and affected persons in the Eighteenth Congressional District of Texas; as a sponsor of the legislation; and as a woman who was born and came of age during a period when the women of America were denied rights that men took for granted, including the basic human right of autonomy over one's own body and to decide for herself the profound and fundamental question of whether to bear or beget a child, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3755, the Women's Health Protection Act, which protects a person's ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider's ability to provide abortion services.

I am extremely pleased that the Biden-Harris Administration strongly endorses this legislation and urges its swift passage by the Congress.

Madam Speaker, I support H.R. 3755 because it states clearly and unequivocally in Section 4 that a ``health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services, and may provide abortion services, and that provider's patient has a corresponding right to receive such services, without any burdensome limitations or requirements.

Burdensome and unlawful requirements include:

1. A requirement that a health care provider perform specific tests or medical procedures in connection with the provision of abortion services, unless generally required for the provision of medically comparable procedures.

2. A requirement that the same health care provider who provides abortion services also perform specified tests, services, or procedures prior to or subsequent to the abortion.

3. A requirement that a health care provider offer or provide the patient seeking abortion services medically inaccurate information in advance of or during abortion services.

4. A limitation on a health care provider's ability to prescribe or dispense drugs based on current evidence-based regimens or the provider's good-faith medical judgment, other than a limitation generally applicable to the medical profession.

5. A limitation on a health care provider's ability to provide abortion services via telemedicine.

6. A requirement or limitation concerning the physical plant, equipment, staffing, or hospital transfer arrangements of facilities where abortion services are provided, or the credentials or hospital privileges or status of personnel at such facilities, that is not imposed on facilities or the personnel of facilities where medically comparable procedures are performed.

7. A requirement that, prior to obtaining an abortion, a patient make one or more medically unnecessary in-person visits to the provider of abortion services or to any individual or entity that does not provide abortion services.

8. A prohibition on abortion at any point or points in time prior to fetal viability, including a prohibition or restriction on a particular abortion procedure.

9. A prohibition on abortion after fetal viability when, in the good- faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient's life or health.

10. A limitation on a health care provider's ability to provide immediate abortion services when that health care provider believes, based on the good-faith medical judgment of the provider, that delay would pose a risk to the patient's health.

It is important to note that prior to fetal viability, the law prohibits a health care requiring a patient seeking abortion services to disclose the patient's reason or reasons for seeking abortion services, or a limiting the provision or obtaining of abortion services at any point or points in time prior to fetal viability based on any actual, perceived, or potential reason or reasons the health care provider believes the patient has for obtaining abortion services.

Madam Speaker, H.R. 3755 contains another important provision, this one directed toward the judiciary, and it is that all courts are to ``liberally construe'' the provisions of the law to effectuate the congressional intent in enacting the law and that courts are not to construe the act in anyway ``to authorize any government to interfere with a person's ability to terminate a pregnancy, or to diminish or in any way negatively affect a person's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.''

To enforce the provisions of the legislation, the Attorney General is authorized to commence a civil action for prospective injunctive relief on behalf of the United States against any government official that is charged with implementing or enforcing any limitation or requirement that is challenged as a violation of a statutory right under this Act.

In addition, H.R. 3755 authorizes private rights of action to be brought for injunctive relief against the government official that is charged with implementing or enforcing the challenged limitation or requirement by any individual or entity, including any health care provider, aggrieved by the alleged violation of this Act.

Madam Speaker, swift, clear, and decisive action to codify the rights and protections provided by the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is the clearly required response to the more than 500 state laws restricting abortion access over the past decade.

These regressive restrictions have eliminated access to abortion care in large swaths of the United States; nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties are without a single abortion provider and five states are down to their last clinic.

The people hurt most by abortion restrictions are those who already face barriers to accessing health care-including Black, indigenous and persons of color, women, those working to make ends meet, members of the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants, young people, those living in rural communities, and people with disabilities.

Madam Speaker, right-wing Republican legislators passed, and the Republican governor signed, Texas SB8, an extreme and facially unconstitutional law that contemptuously violates existing Supreme Court precedent.

The Texas law significantly impairs women's access to critical reproductive health care, particularly affecting communities of color, individuals with low incomes, and those who live in rural or underserved communities.

The law also turns private citizens into bounty hunters who are empowered to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, including family members, faith leaders, Uber drivers and others providing transportation, and health care providers.

The new Texas law prohibits abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and creates the opportunity for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and women seeking to terminate their pregnancy past six weeks.

The law effectively bans abortion in Texas, as the six-week cutoff is just two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle.

The ``hotline'' reporting system in the Texas law is particularly malicious.

Since enforcement of the bill lies entirely with private citizens, Texans are incentivized to stalk women as they make vitally important decisions about their own health.

It is anathema to the conscience of the United States of America to have individuals following women to determine whether they have or will receive an abortion.

We saw similar occurrences during the KGB era of the Soviet Union, as neighbor spied on, lied against, and turned against neighbor to hand over their fellow citizens to the state.

We are Americans, and to have a law that so blatantly foments distrust and stalking among our citizenry is a blatant spit in the face of the principles on which this country was founded.

To assist in stopping this law, and to protect women from vigilante bounty hunters, I have introduced H.R. 5226, the ``Preventing Vigilante Stalking that Stops Women's Access to Healthcare and Abortion Rights Act of 2021.''

This bill would enhance criminal penalties under the federal stalking statute if the stalking is done with the intent to prevent or report on a woman's health decisions.

Importantly, this bill does not include any mandatory minimums.

This bill will weaken the incentive to stalk women by bolstering the criminal penalties under the federal stalking statute if the stalking is intended to prevent or report on a woman's health decisions.

Additionally, earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that in December it will hear argument on a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which represents a direct challenge to the continued vitality of Roe v. Wade.

Madam Speaker, one of the most detestable aspects of these continued attacks to undermine a woman's right to reproductive health care is that it would curb access to care for women in the most desperate of circumstances.

Women like Danielle Deaver, who was 22 weeks pregnant when her water broke and tests showed that Danielle had suffered anhydramnios, a premature rupture of the membranes before the fetus has achieved viability.

This condition meant that the fetus likely would be born with a shortening of muscle tissue that results in the inability to move limbs.

In addition, Danielle's fetus likely would suffer deformities to the face and head, and the lungs were unlikely to develop beyond the 22- week point.

There was less than a 10% chance that, if born, Danielle's baby would be able to breathe on its own and only a 2% chance the baby would be able to eat on its own.

Abridging a woman's right to reproductive health care hurts women like Vikki Stella, a diabetic, who discovered months into her pregnancy that the fetus she was carrying suffered from several major anomalies and had no chance of survival and whose physician determined that because of Vikki's diabetes, induced labor and Caesarian section were both riskier procedures for Vikki than an abortion.

SB8 is the most brazen, but not the first, attempt to roll back women's reproductive health care rights in Texas.

In 2013 Texas passed a law that would have cut off access to 75 percent of reproductive healthcare clinics in the state had it not been challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 and 2015.

On October 2, 2014, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a Texas law that required that all reproductive healthcare clinics that provided the full range of services would be required to have a hospital-style surgery center building and staffing requirements.

This requirement meant that only 7 clinics in the entire state would be allowed to continue to provide a full spectrum of reproductive healthcare to women.

But because Texas is a vast state comprising 268,580 square miles, (second only in size and population to the state of California), implementation of the law would have ended access to reproductive services for millions of women in my state.

In 2015, the State of Texas once again threatened women's access to reproductive health care when it attempted to shutter all but 10 healthcare providers in the state of Texas.

The Supreme Court once again intervened on behalf of Texas women to block the move to close clinics.

Madam Speaker, since the United States Supreme Court ruled over 40 years ago, in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)), that a woman's constitutional right to privacy includes her right to abortion, both abortion rates and risks have substantially declined, as have the number of teen and unwanted pregnancies.

If opponents were so concerned about women's health and safety, they would be promoting any one of the number of evidence-based proactive policies that improve women's health and well-being.

Instead, they are continuing their assault on women's constitutional rights and their campaign to outlaw abortion.

That is their number one priority; it is certainly not about protecting women's health; it is about politics.

It is clear women are under attack and must be on perpetual guard against new attacks on women's access to reproductive health care, often couched in those same terms.

Madam Speaker, this is not what the American people want.

Support for abortion access is at an all-time high; nearly 80 percent of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

There is no state in the Nation where making abortion illegal is popular.

The American people want more access to health care, not less, and it is more critical than ever to see through this inflammatory misinformation campaign.

Madam Speaker, the right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion, is central to individual equality.

The right enables a person to decide if, when, and how to start and grow their family.

It enables people to pursue and advance in their education and employment, and to be full and equal participants in society.

Laws that restrict reproductive freedom, including restrictions on abortion and birth control, perpetuate harmful stereotypes about gender roles and undermine gender equality.

Courts, federal law, and the public have long connected reproductive freedom with equality.

Reproductive freedom is central to women's equality, for as the Supreme Court said in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992): ``The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.''

Americans understand this connection and it is reflected in a January 2019 national poll showing 71% of voters agree--48% agree strongly-- that equal rights for women includes access to reproductive health care.

State laws like Texas SB8 represent unconstitutional infringements on the right to privacy, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in a long line of cases going back to Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) and, of course, Roe v. Wade.

In Roe v. Wade, the Court held that a state could not prohibit a woman from exercising her right to terminate a pregnancy in order to protect her health prior to viability.

While many factors go into determining fetal viability, the consensus of the medical community is that viability is acknowledged as not occurring prior to 24 weeks gestation.

Supreme Court precedents make it clear that neither Congress nor a state legislature can declare any one element--``be it weeks of gestation or fetal weight or any other single factor--as the determinant'' of viability. Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379, 388-89 (1979).

The constitutionally protected right to privacy encompasses the right of women to choose to terminate a pregnancy before viability, and even later, where continuing the pregnancy to term poses a threat to a woman's life, health, or safety.

This right of privacy was hard won and must be preserved inviolate.

Madam Speaker, every pregnancy is different, and no politician knows, or has the right to assume he knows, what is best for a woman and her family.

These are decisions that properly must be left to women to make, in consultation with their partners, doctors, and their God.

I urge all Members to join me in voting to protect a person's ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider's ability to provide abortion services by voting for H.R. 3755, the Women's Health Protection Act. [From the Intelligencer, Sept. 3, 2021] Texas Is Already Creating Abortion Refugees (By Melissa Jeltsen)

Just pause and breathe. We're going to help, but I need you to take a breath and calm down for a moment.

Kathaleen Pittman, director of the Hope Medical Clinic for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, repeated this mantra over and over to the teary women on the other end of the phone. The calls were coming from all over Texas, where abortion is currently banned at about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. They wanted to know if they could get an abortion in Louisiana instead.

``The phone has been ringing off the wall, patients attempting to get in,'' Pittman said. But appointments were scarce. When I spoke with her on Thursday, Hope Medical Clinic was the only functioning abortion clinic in the state of Louisiana; the other two remaining clinics were closed due to power outages caused by Hurricane Ida. ``Right now we are booked out three, possibly four weeks just to get in for that first visit,'' Pittman said, noting that a state-mandated waiting period requires patients to come to the clinic twice. ``We're going to see women who are terminating later in the pregnancy than desired because they simply can't get in quickly enough,'' she said. Others, she feared, wouldn't be able to get an abortion at all. ``Of course it's going to be the women who have no money,'' she added. ``It's always the women without the means that suffer the most.''

In the wake of SB 8, which went into effect on Wednesday, many clinics in Texas are still providing abortions for patients up to six-weeks pregnant, or before embryonic cardiac activity can be detected. Everyone else--estimated to be about 85 percent of all abortion patients--is now being referred out of state. As a result, clinics in Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas are being inundated with a surge of pregnant people who are racing against the clock for care. Yet, in many of these states, years of constant antiabortion attacks have eroded the existing reproductive health infrastructure, leaving a fragile system that is ill-equipped to absorb the additional demand.

``The second largest state in the country goes dark on a service and everyone else surrounding is trying to support and provide care,'' said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which covers Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Clinics in all three states are seeing an increase in Texas patients, she said, especially in Oklahoma. At the same time, abortion access is under attack there; five new abortion restrictions are set to go into effect on November 1. ``It feels a little bit like it's whack-a-mole right now in trying to beat back what are medically unnecessary requirements to ensure ongoing access,'' Wales said.

While other states have passed similar six-week abortion bans, the Texas law is the only one that has been allowed to go into effect. That's because of the unique way it was drafted. The state does not enforce the law. Instead, SB 8 deputizes regular people to file civil lawsuits against doctors or anyone else who knowingly ``aids or abets'' an abortion. The law appears to have been intentionally designed this way to thwart judicial action.

At Trust Women's clinic in Oklahoma City, which is one of the closest abortion clinics for people in north Texas, abortion appointments are already being booked three weeks into September, just like at Hope Medical Clinic in Louisiana. ``All of our doctors fly in from other states,'' explained Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, communications director for Trust Women. ``We're currently asking them to consider working additional days, but of course, our doctors also practice medicine in their home states as well.'' Trust Women has another clinic in Wichita, Kansas, with slightly more availability, but to get there, Texas patients must travel even further. ``We've already started seeing some of those Texas patients today, and we've got some scheduled tomorrow,'' said Ashley Brink, the Wichita clinic director. ``It's been a really emotional time. A lot of these folks, they're scared, they're confused, they're sad.''

Kristina Tocce, medical director at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said she was seeing the same uptick in Colorado and New Mexico. ``I'm very nervous for patients who need services immediately because this was an immediate hard stop to abortion services in Texas without a clear path for those patients as to where they can go,'' she said. ``Texas is essentially a pre-Roe world now.''

The distance to the nearest clinic is only one of the problems that Texas patients now face, said Alan Braid, the owner and medical director of Alamo Women's Reproductive Services in San Antonio. Many patients are already mothers, and cannot leave their jobs or their children for the length of time needed to access care in another state. Some are undocumented and cannot travel with ease.

``It sounds very easy--oh well, you can't get it in Texas, just go to Oklahoma, New Mexico. But the people that we see-- that hourly wage patient, the single mom, the people that don't have the means to travel--it's impossible for them,'' he said. ``That's like saying well, just hop on a plane and, you know, go to France. It's beautiful there, you can get an abortion and then take a walk down the Champs-Elysees.''

Braid, who has been providing abortion care in Texas since he began his OB/GYN internship in 1972, said this was the worst climate he had ever seen for reproductive rights in Texas since before Roe v. Wade. The new law, with its vigilante-enforcement scheme, is spreading fear and distrust. ``You can feel it in the room,'' he said. ``It hangs heavy.'' As a provider, he said, he is usually optimistic that he can support his patients and meet their needs. ``Now, when I walk in the room, I have huge doubts about whether I'm going to be able to help,'' he said. ``I'm not used to that.''

He expressed deep concern about what patients will do to obtain abortions if they can't get one inside Texas when they need it. He still has a powerful memory of three teenagers dying from septic shock and organ failure after obtaining back-alley abortions back when he was an intern in 1972.

``That's where we're headed,'' he said. ``I promise you that people are going to cross the border to Mexico. They're going to self-induce.'' [From the AP News, Sept. 2, 2021]

New Texas Abortion Law Pushes Women to Out-of-State Clinics

Even before a strict abortion ban took effect in Texas this week, clinics in neighboring states were fielding growing numbers of calls from women desperate for options.

An Oklahoma clinic had received more than double its number of typical inquiries, two-thirds of them from Texas. A Kansas clinic is anticipating a patient increase of up to 40% based on calls from women in Texas. A Colorado clinic that already had started seeing more patients from other states was preparing to ramp up supplies and staffing in anticipation of the law taking effect.

The Texas law, allowed to stand in a decision Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court, bans abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, typically around six weeks. In a highly unusual twist, enforcement will be done by private citizens who can sue anyone they believe is violating the law.

``There's real panic about how are they going to get an abortion within six weeks,'' said Anna Rupani, co-director of Fund Texas Choice, one of several nonprofits that help pay for travel and other expenses for patients seeking out-of- state abortions. ``There's this fear that if I can't get it done in six weeks, I may not be able to get it done because I may not be able to leave my job or my family for more than a day.''

Traveling for an abortion may be impossible for women who would struggle to find child care or take time off work. And for those without legal U.S. status along Texas' southern border, traveling to an abortion clinic also entails the risk of getting stopped at a checkpoint.

Fund Texas Choice is among the groups seeking to expand a network that helps women in Texas and other places with restrictive abortion laws end their pregnancies in other states. It already has seen more women reaching out. The organization typically handles 10 new cases per week but received 10 calls from new clients just Wednesday, when the law took effect.

The phenomenon is not new. Women have been increasingly seeking out-of-state abortions as Republican legislatures and governors have passed ever-tighter abortion laws, particularly in the South. At least 276,000 women terminated their pregnancies outside their home state between 2012 and 2017, according to a 2019 Associated Press analysis of state and federal data.

The trend appears to have accelerated over the past year. Abortion clinics in neighboring states began seeing an uptick in calls from Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott banned abortions in March 2020 for nearly a month under a COVID-19 executive order.

The number of Texans seeking abortions in Planned Parenthood clinics in the Rocky Mountain region, which covers Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and southern Nevada, was 12 times higher that month. In California, 7,000 patients came from other states to Planned Parenthood clinics in 2020.

The number of Texans getting abortions in Kansas jumped from 25 in 2019 to 289 last year. The Trust Women clinic in Wichita accounted for 203 of those procedures in a three- month period. Those patients traveled an average of 650 miles (1,000 kilometers), Trust Women spokesman Zack Gingrich- Gaylord said.

``Last year was a dress rehearsal,'' he said, predicting similar numbers under the new Texas law.

One woman discovered she was pregnant just as Abbott's emergency order banning abortions was lifted. She and her partner had lost their jobs in San Antonio during the pandemic.

``We didn't know which way the world was going to go with everything shut down and no change in sight,'' said Miranda, who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used for fear of harassment and intimidation. ``The last thing I wanted to do was be pregnant.''

She struggled to find an abortion clinic that could help her. An online search led her to Fund Texas Choice and the Lilith Fund, another organization that offers financial assistance to Texans seeking abortions. They offered to pay for a flight to New Mexico.

``It's so comforting because it's like someone saying, `We got you. Let's take care of this together,' '' Miranda said.

Eventually, she found an appointment at a clinic in Dallas, a five-hour drive away. The groups helped with gas and lodging, aid that will be even more important with the new law, Miranda said.

``To be able to help me in a time of need when I had nothing, not even a job--that's something I think a lot of women would benefit from if they knew those options were there,'' she said.

Trust Women Wichita clinic director Ashley Brink said the phones have been busier than normal this week with potential patients from Texas and beyond. Women also have been calling from Louisiana and Alabama who would typically get abortion care in Texas but are having to travel even farther.

The clinic typically sees 40 to 50 abortion patients in a week and now is expecting an additional 15 to 20.

At Trust Women's clinic in Oklahoma City, 80 appointments were scheduled over the past two days, more than double the typical amount, co-executive director Rebecca Tong said. Two- thirds were from Texas, and the earliest opening was three weeks out.

``Oklahoma has just barely enough clinics for the amount of people here,'' Tong said. ``If anyone is thinking, `Oh, they can just go out of state, it'll be so easy,' a lot of clinics in the Midwest and South, we don't do abortion care five days a week.''

Oklahoma providers also face the potential for abortion restrictions similar to those in Texas in a matter of months.

In recent months, 15% of patients supported by Cobalt, an abortion access advocacy group in Colorado, were from out of state, president Karen Middleton said. She expects that number to keep rising.

The group administers a fund to cover the cost of the procedure, travel, lodging and meals. It began preparing for a potential influx of patients from Texas several weeks ago.

``We reached out to everyone who provides abortion care in the state of Colorado,'' Middleton said. ``We asked them to be ready and to let us know if they could handle increased capacity.''

Traveling for the procedure may still be out of reach for some. Women without legal U.S. status might turn to abortion medication, said Diana Gomez, advocacy manager with Progress Texas, though even that option is in question.

Several Republican-led states have passed laws making it harder to access the pills and banning prescriptions through virtual health visits. Texas is considering similar restrictions, which could force women to get pills by mail for do-it-yourself abortions or other methods.

``They are going to have to go underground and find alternative means in our state,'' Gomez said. [From TIME, Sept. 23, 2021] Florida Lawmaker Proposes Abortion Ban That Mimics Texas SB-8 Law

A Florida legislator has proposed banning most abortions in the state and allowing lawsuits against doctors who violate it, mirroring a Texas law that instituted the strictest abortion restrictions in the U.S.

It wasn't immediately clear how much support the bill would garner. The Republican-controlled Florida legislature has shown significant support for tighter abortion policies, but Governor Ron DeSantis said he hadn't reviewed this specific proposal and the GOP House speaker was similarly noncommittal on Wednesday.

The bill, proposed by state Representative Webster Barnaby, a Republican, would require doctors in Florida to perform tests to determine if a fetus has a detectable heartbeat before performing an abortion.

If a physician detects a heartbeat, according to the bill, abortion would be prohibited. The measure also would allow doctors to be sued if suspected of performing an abortion after detecting a heartbeat, matching a powerful provision in the Texas law, known as Senate Bill Eight, or SB-8.

The bill appeared to be a clear example of a Texas copycat law in another large, GOP-controlled state. In the days after the Texas law took effect, abortion clinics turned away hundreds of patients. It was seen by abortion-rights supporters as an end-run around Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that has been the foundation of abortion rights in the U.S. ever since.

Florida's Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls said through a spokesman that he supported stricter abortion restrictions, but said that any bill brought to the floor would have to withstand judicial scrutiny.

``We look forward to bringing to the Floor a bill that saves every unborn life possible,'' he said. ``I have asked House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Grall and House Health & Human Services Chairwoman Colleen Burton to review the various proposals, look at other ideas, and take point on this issue this Session.''

Still, the Florida proposal sparked immediate condemnation from abortion rights advocates, who called legislation unconstitutional and part of a flurry of harsh restrictions on women's rights.

``We are horrified to see anti-choice politicians in Florida following in Texas' footsteps, and there's no question that lawmakers hostile to reproductive freedom in other states will do the same,'' Adrienne Kimmell, acting president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.

Early this month, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law, which outlaws most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. SB-8, bars abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected and puts clinics at risk of being shut down if they are found to be in violation.

Asked about Barnaby's bill on Wednesday in Kissimmee, Desantis said he considered his record ``100% pro-life'' but added that he had not seen it.

Desantis, a Republican seen as a potential presidential candidate, has rejected coronavirus mask mandates and so- called vaccine passports, saying his position is largely about an individual's right to determine their healthcare choices. He said Wednesday that the abortion question was different because ``another life is at stake.''

Democratic candidates vying to replace Desantis in the 2022 election firmly opposed the legislation.

``This is a direct attack on a woman's right to choose,'' Charlie Crist, a former governor, said on Twitter. ``We're going to have to fight tooth and nail to protect reproductive freedom.''


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I am ready to close, whenever the gentlewoman is ready.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. DeGETTE. I continue to reserve the balance of my time, Madam Speaker.


Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank Judy Chu, the author of this legislation who has been fighting tirelessly for years, also Barbara Lee, my co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, and to all of our colleagues who value Americans' freedoms and the freedom of women to have the full range of healthcare that they need.

This bill codifies the content of the law of the land, Roe v. Wade, no more and no less.

The overheated and incorrect rhetoric on the other side of the aisle is shameful. It is shameful because it denies the freedom of all Americans to get the healthcare services that they need and to which they are entitled.

Madam Speaker, we are a country of freedom, and we are a country of freedom of religion. As a practicing Christian, I am offended by the efforts on the other side of the aisle for people to impose their-- their personal--religious views on me as a Christian.

Every woman and every man in this country deserves the freedom to exercise their religion and also to exercise their ability to get the healthcare that they need.

For more than 50 years, as so many of my wonderful colleagues said, women across this country have had the right to get the abortion care they need because of a landmark decision made right across the street. But that right is being severely undermined in States across the country like Texas, Mississippi, and other States.

For people in Texas and these other States, 50 years of precedent and healthcare access is being undermined as we speak. There are more than 500 laws that have been introduced in States across this country that would restrict the ability of Americans to get the healthcare that they need and deserve. As a result, more than 90 percent of American counties no longer have abortion clinics. Some people might think that is good, but the vast majority of Americans believe that it is the choice of a woman and her healthcare provider about what healthcare she should receive.

So today, if the Justices across the street won't act to protect this freedom of healthcare, this House of Representatives will.

I will say it again: the decision of a woman to have an abortion should be made between her and her doctor. The last thing the women in this country want is a bunch of politicians in Washington, D.C., or in Austin, Texas, or someone else telling them what their healthcare should be.

So, therefore, let's codify Roe v. Wade. Let's codify these rights. Let's stop the histrionics and inaccurate rhetoric. Let's oppose the motion to recommit. Let's support this wonderful bill, the Women's Health Protection Act.

Madam Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``yes'', and I yield back the balance of my time.