Padilla Introduces Legislation to Protect Doctors from Republicans’ Anti-Abortion Attacks

WATCH: Senator Padilla announces legislation to protect abortion care providers from GOP attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) held a press conference to announce the introduction of the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to protect doctors against Republicans’ non-stop attacks and ensure they can safely provide abortion care in states where it is still legal. The introduction follows Senator Padilla’s visit to Planned Parenthood Los Angeles last week.

Download Video of Padilla’s Remarks in English Here / Download Video of Padilla’s Remarks in Spanish Here

Republicans’ nonstop-attacks against women’s reproductive freedom have long targeted doctors with state laws like Texas’ SB8, which allows for anyone to bring a lawsuit against an abortion provider. But in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, these attacks have ramped up—with Republican state legislators drafting legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion on a state resident even in another state where abortion is legal. And already, Republican politicians are launching non-stop attacks against abortion providers, including Dr. Caitlin Bernard—who is facing legal threats after providing legal abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim who was forced to cross state lines to seek medical care. Dr. Bernard’s case is emblematic of what abortion providers across the country are facing.

The Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act will help protect against these attacks, ensuring that providers in states where abortion remains legal are protected from any efforts to restrict their practice or create uncertainty about their legal liability.

“Abortion access is a fundamental right—and California will proudly remain a safe place for people to receive the care they need,” said Senator Padilla. “As Republicans continue to pass cruel legislation rolling back reproductive rights, we must protect health care providers from overreach by anti-abortion states. I urge my colleagues to pass the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to protect the courageous women and men delivering essential medical care to those who need it.”

“Doctors shouldn’t be punished for providing their patients with legal abortion care—full stop. The legal threats, the intimidation, and the non-stop attacks from Republicans against abortion providers are unacceptable, and Democrats are fighting back,” said Senator Murray. “This bill is simple: it protects doctors providing legal abortion care, and ensures they can practice medicine and save lives without threat. It’s urgent that we protect the doctors so many women depend on, so this week we’re calling for unanimous consent to get this done—and Republicans will either stand aside so we can pass this bill, or show once and for all that their messaging that they ‘don’t want to punish doctors’ is hollow.”

“Overturning Roe v. Wade not only jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of women, but it now can throw medical professionals in legal jeopardy even in states that continue to honor a woman’s right to choose,” said Senator Luján. “Having medical professionals subjected to constant fear, persecution, and legal prosecution is wrong and does not create safe environments for patients or caregivers. The Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act is a critical bill to help protect those who are protecting women and their personal medical decisions.”

“As MAGA Republicans in Congress continue their efforts to ban abortion nationwide, we’re introducing legislation to protect doctors in states where abortion remains legal from facing prosecution by anti-choice states,” said Senator Rosen. “Nevada is a strongly pro-choice state, and no Nevada doctor should be punished by another state’s restrictive abortion laws simply for doing their jobs and providing health care to women in our state.”

“As a full-spectrum OBGYN and abortion provider, I wholeheartedly appreciate the Senate’s effort to create legislation that protects our ability to provide important reproductive healthcare for our patients. I have experienced personal and professional harassment for simply doing my job, including inflammatory and intimidating statements from the highest levels of my home state government and threats of violence from people I have never met. This behavior cannot continue,” said Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who has endorsed the legislation. “Living in a state with one of the highest maternal mortality risks and with a severe shortage of OBGYN specialists, I can say firsthand how much people in my state need the care I and other OBGYNs provide. If we do not stop this state-sanctioned harassment, we will lose OBGYNs and health risks will increase substantially. I stand with our Senators to promote the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to preserve our ability provide important health services in my home state, including abortion care.”

“Being an abortion provider means being for our communities, supporting them and providing care in the way they want or need. It also means living with the threat of surveillance, harassment, intimidation and violence from those that seek to eliminate abortion access and harm providers of this care. This is our reality,” said Dr. Jamila Perritt, an OBGYN and President & CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “Considering the long history of harm against abortion providers, I am glad to see Congress introducing the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act. Every person – abortion providers, supporters, staff, every person in our community deserves support and protection. We deserve to what we are trained to do: provide comprehensive reproductive health care that patients need without bias, shame, or stigma. We deserve to provide this essential health care without violence or harassment.”

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 because of legal services offered to patients.

Senator Padilla is a champion for reproductive rights and is a cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee access and the right to provide abortion services in the United States and the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022, legislation that would make it clear that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services and would empower the U.S. Attorney General and impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a person’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The bill has been endorsed by: Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Catholics for Choice, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Full text of the bill is available here.

A one-pager can be found here.


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