Democratic lawmakers introduce bill to make reproductive health care more accessible to women with disabilities

Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to assist Americans with disabilities seeking reproductive health services, hoping to reduce the barriers they may face after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion.

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) announced the Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act in a press release, explaining the bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study to survey the landscape of reproductive health services for the mentally and physically disabled.

The bill would also fund grants for training and education programs for health care professionals who provide reproductive care for the disabled; pour additional grant funding into programs aimed at recruiting and educating people with disabilities in the reproductive health care field; and create a new technical assistance center to assist with related educational needs for the disabled.

Duckworth, who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in Iraq in 2004, said the bill would ensure 61 million disabled American women “are not left behind in getting the care we need, when we need it.”

“For too long, Americans with disabilities have faced persistent barriers to healthcare services, equipment and providers,” the senator said in a statement. “With right-wing efforts underway to go even further to undermine these rights in the wake of the overturning of Roe, many are rightfully worried about having an even harder time accessing the reproductive care they need.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion cleared the way for about half of all states to ban or severely restrict abortion access.

The senators estimate that because of that ruling, 1 in 4 adults with a disability will face barriers to contraception counseling and prenatal care in a society where they already face consistent obstacles.

While the legislation is co-sponsored by several other Democratic senators and has the backing of more than a dozen disability rights groups and reproductive rights organizations, abortion access legislation is unlikely to pass in the evenly divided Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.

Murray, however, said “every single American deserves to have control over their own body, life, and future.”

“But people with disabilities have long faced discrimination and truly unacceptable roadblocks to getting the reproductive care they need—and Republicans’ nonstop attacks on our rights have made matters so much worse,” the senator said in a statement.

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