More than a dozen House Democrats have put forward legislation that would give the Department of Health and Human Services $20 million a year to wage a public awareness campaign promoting abortion.
The bill from Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., and Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., is an attempt to get the federal government involved in helping people access abortion services in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. That ruling left abortion rights to the states, but the Democratic bill proposes that HHS help doctors and patients “navigate the legal landscape” as they seek abortions.
“Health care providers simply trying to care for their patients are being forced to navigate a patchwork of new bans and limitations on abortion care, some of which could land them in jail just for doing their jobs,” Trahan said Tuesday. She said the bill would ensure doctors have the “guidance and assurance necessary to provide reproductive care for their patients in a constantly changing legal landscape.”
According to the bill, HHS would also play a role in “the dissemination of information on the negative health impacts on communities when access to abortion and other reproductive health care services is restricted or banned.”
“[T]he health care professionals whose duty it is to provide reproductive services, support, and resources are now facing an uphill battle – and in some states, potential criminal charges – to provide that essential reproductive care,” said Blunt Rochester.
She said states run by Republicans have “jumped at the chance to strip millions of women of their fundamental right to make their own reproductive health care decisions through extreme abortion bans.”
The bill would give HHS $20 million per year through fiscal years 2023 to 2027, for a total of $100 million.
Democrats have been hopeful that the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion will give them an advantage in the midterm elections that are expected to favor Republicans in light of rising inflation and broader economic dissatisfaction. President Biden last week made a push to rally Democratic voters by saying a result that lets them keep the majority in the House and Senate would let them take up votes on abortion.
“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade,” Biden said.
However, abortion is not rivaling inflation, high gas prices and other economic issues. Recent polls say more voters are breaking for Republicans in these last few weeks before the vote. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who votes with Democrats, said this week that Democrats should be focusing on these economic issues more than they have been.
“I think what the Democrats have got to say is, ‘We are gonna stand with working people, we’re prepared to take on the drug companies, we’re prepared to take on the insurance companies, and create an economy that works for all of us,” Sanders said.
“Is the abortion issue important? Yes,” he said. “But we have also got to focus on the struggles of working people to put food on their table.”