With ‘Roe’ on the line, some Democrats seek federal codification of abortion rights

Leila Abolfazli, director of federal reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, told Rewire.News that when discussing the codification of Roe, “language is important because, especially in the moment we’re in right now, I think it’s really important to remind people that the right to abortion is a constitutional right.”

“When we talk about what we need right now given the lack of access [to abortion]—which is the fruit of decades of attacking access—I stay away from codification of the right because…I’m not sure what that means,” she said. Instead, Abolfazli explained, she sees “eliminating the hurdles and burdens that states have been able to pass” as worthy of examination. While the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health  v. Hellerstedt, did a lot to address abortion restrictions such as targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, “there are a range of other laws that have passed that similarly need to be dealt with,” Abolfazli said.

That’s why legislation in the U.S. Congress such as the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act and the recently reintroduced Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) seek to address what “it mean[s] to actually be able to exercise” the right to an abortion.

“We have the constitutional right to abortion, but for many across the country, particularly individuals struggling to make ends meet, people of color, [and] young people, the access is really limited,” Abolfazli said. “And so the question is, what federal policies can you pass … to support access rather than just focusing on [if] you have that right itself?”