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Registered Nurses’ Union Calls on Senate to Pass Abortion Rights Bill

July 5, 2022 by Dan McCue
Nicky Sundt, of Washington, holds a sign with an image depicting Medusa that says, "Remember in November, Vote!," outside of the Supreme Court, June 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest union representing registered nurses is calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act as soon as possible after it returns from its Independence Day recess on July 11.

The request, made in a letter to the Senate sponsor of the bill, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, comes in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 to “radically [abolish] 50 years of progress on reproductive rights” in its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“As members of a health care profession that is 90% female, nurses understand that abortion is an essential part of health care, and that a patient’s right to control their own body is at the very basis of a free and just society,” the union writes.

It goes on to say its members “stand with President Biden and urge you to suspend the filibuster to allow for a vote on this crucial legislation on the Senate floor without delay.”

“As nurses,” the union says, “we have a duty to advocate for our patients and their right to make their own health care decisions.

“The basic tenets of ethical health care dictate that patients should enjoy autonomy, self-determination, and dignity over their bodies, their lives, and the health care they receive,” it continues. “Registered nurses understand that abortion is a basic health care service, and codifying the protections established by Roe v. Wade would ensure that patients are able to choose what is best for them.”

The nurses contend that without access to abortion services, “patients may be at risk of illness and death due to pregnancy or may be at risk of avoidable complications from unsafe and illegal abortion practices.

“Patients should have the right to seek abortion care with the counsel of a trusted health care provider regardless of where they live, and it is critical that Congress codify that right,” the union writes.

“Further, access to quality reproductive health care allows people to make decisions for themselves whether and when to have children, a choice that is essential for full participation in our society,” the nurses say. “Reproductive health services are also fundamental to ensuring
economic justice for women across the country. Working class women and women of color
will be particularly hurt by restrictions on abortion access.”

If enacted, the Women’s Health Protection Act would protect abortion access nationwide by creating a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive, abortion care — free from restrictions and bans.

It passed in the House on Sept. 24, 2021 by a vote of 218 to 211. But it has failed to gain any traction in the Senate. When a vote to invoke cloture and proceed to the measure was held in February, it failed to receive the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster. In the end, the yeas and nays were 46-48.

And the prospects continue to look dim in that chamber.

Despite President Biden’s call to carve out an exemption in the filibuster rule to pass the abortion rights legislation, staffers with the offices of two high profile Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., told The Well News late last week that their bosses remain staunchly opposed to touching the filibuster.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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