Today, on the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the Government Operations Committee of the DC Council unanimously approved the Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019 (SRHPAA).

At a time when access to reproductive health care is so precarious, we are so excited about SRHPAA moving through the DC legislative process. This critical bill would recognize and protect the right of every individual to access reproductive health care without government interference. Specifically, it ensures that DC will not: (1) interfere with the right of every individual who becomes pregnant to decide to give birth or to have an abortion, (2) interfere with the right to choose or refuse birth control or sterilization; or (3) punish any individual for seeking, inducing, or attempting to end their own pregnancy. This bill follows recent proactive efforts by New York, Illinois, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion.

SRHPAA also includes an additional provision that can help increase access to reproductive health care – it would protect from discrimination health care providers who participate in abortion care.

Health care professionals across the country have been being fired or threatened by an employer for currently or previously providing abortion care. These doctors and clinicians have been prohibited from moonlighting as providers, harassed by colleagues, and denied admitting privileges to hospitals. I have spoken personally to doctors, physician residents, students, and others who have experienced discrimination and who are scared of pursuing their chosen career because of discrimination they may face.

Health care professionals should be trusted to work along with their patients to make the best medical decisions without interference or facing threats of discrimination. When abortion providers are protected from discrimination, patients get better care.

That is why we need SRHPAA, because the bill would:

  • protect doctors and nurses who have provided or still provide abortion care for another employer from being fired from their primary or current employer;
  • protect clinicians who provide abortion as the standard of care for patients with pregnancy complications but their employer objects to them providing that standard of care;
  • prevent hospitals from denying hospital admitting privileges to a doctor just because they are an abortion provider;
  • prevent a hospital from rescinding a job offer just because an administrator found out that the person who was offered the job took care of abortion patients in a previous job; and,
  • protect medical and nursing students from being denied residency or other medical training opportunities because they are willing to provide abortion or sterilization procedures, or because they sought abortion training on their own time.

Patients and providers deserve the respect and dignity SRHPAA provides. And we know that voters agree. Last year, we polled voters and found that a majority agree that employers should not discriminate against health care professionals just because they provide or have provided abortion care.

Thank you Councilmembers Grosso, Todd, Nadeau, and Silverman for protecting access to reproductive health care and abortion providers in DC, especially on Roe day!

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