Rep. Pressley proposes legislation to combat anti-abortion bans nationwide

“This is a matter of life and death,” said U.S. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., tells theGrio.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., unveiled new legislation this week intended to safeguard against Republican-led restrictions against abortion rights nationwide. 

This week, Pressley introduced the Abortion Justice Act, which aims to address racism in the healthcare system, grant citizens a legal right to abortion and protect patients and healthcare providers from criminalization for abortion procedures. 

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., tells reporters she wants to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2023. Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic measure to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have removed a 1982 deadline for state ratification and reopened the process to amend the Constitution. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Abortion care is health care and a fundamental human right,” Pressley told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. “But access to this right has been stripped away from far too many, exacerbating many of the inequities and disparities that harm our most vulnerable.”

Pressley told theGrio she introduced the Abortion Justice Act because “this is a matter of life and death.”

“We already know what it looks like in a world where rights have been rolled back…where we have racist and discriminatory laws,” she said.

The congresswoman continued, “The harm that’s coming our way from state legislatures all the way to the Supreme Court is very unapologetic and blunt. We are on the heels of Juneteenth, …I want Freedom Day every day, and that has to begin with our bodies.”

Pressley’s press conference included several other congressional members, including Reps. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Nikema Williams, D-Ga., Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Maxwell Frost, D-Fla.

“People exercising their right to make decisions about having an abortion should be legally protected and respected,” said Bush.

Frost told reporters that “the right to an abortion is under attack [therefore] the Abortion Justice Act is a critical step in ensuring and protecting the reproductive health of millions of Americans into law.” 

Pressley introduced the Abortion Justice Act ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson. The ruling controversially overturned Roe v. Wade, which previously protected access to abortion on the federal level, leaving the issue up to individual states. 

FILE – The Supreme Court is seen on April 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Elected officials and advocates slammed the court’s decision for having crippling effects on marginalized communities. In more than 20 states, Republican leaders enacted abortion bans that leaders and experts say is a challenge for Black, brown and low-income women to seek abortions. 

In April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a statute that bans most abortions after six weeks, as theGrio previously reported.

Kara Gross, ACLU legislative director and senior policy counsel, told theGrio that this bill and many others are “discriminatory.” 

“These types of anti-abortion bans particularly target Black and Latinx people. As well as anyone who’s trying to make ends meet,” said Gross.

Pressley noted that Black women have had “our pain delegitimized or challenged.” 

“There is a systemic racial bias and prejudice within our healthcare system, regardless of socioeconomic status,” she added. “We know that Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth or post-birthing complications.”

Due to the impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Pressley told theGrio, “We have to move with deliberate urgency…in passing the Abortion Justice Act.”

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