Senate Democrats unveil legislation to protect abortion providers

A group of Senate Democrats on Tuesday introduced legislation that would protect physicians who provide abortion services in states where they are still legal from what one of the lawmakers referred to as “non-stop attacks from Republicans.”

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Alex Padilla (Calif.) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.) said in a statement that they will be seeking unanimous consent this week to pass the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act.

The bill would protect health care providers in states where abortion is still legal from being subject to laws that would prevent them from providing reproductive health care services or make them liable for providing such services to patients from other states.

It would additionally prevent federal funding from being used to take legal action against such doctors and establish federal grants to support reproductive health care service providers.

“Doctors shouldn’t be punished for providing their patients with legal abortion care—full stop. The legal threats, the intimidation, and the non-stop attacks from Republicans against abortion providers are unacceptable, and Democrats are fighting back,” Murray said.

In a statement regarding the bill, the senators specifically cited the recent attention brought to Indiana OB-GYN Caitlin Bernard, who provided abortion services to a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped. Bernard has endorsed the bill, according to the lawmakers.

After Bernard shared with The Indianapolis Star that she would be assisting the 10-year-old after she was denied an abortion in Ohio, several public figures — including some right-wing lawmakers — expressed doubt over her story’s validity. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) publicly questioned whether Bernard had followed his state’s abortion reporting laws and said he would look into her licensure.

“Dr. Bernard’s case is emblematic of what abortion providers across the country are facing, as Republicans lob legal threats and intimidate doctors providing legal abortion care,” the senators said in their statement.