National Nurses United, the largest nurses' union in the United States, released a letter Tuesday endorsing legislation that would force all states to allow abortion at any point before birth.
The letter calls on senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would almost entirely prohibit states from regulating abortion. Critics of the bill have dubbed it the "Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act," as it would make late-term abortions legal in every state.
Per recent polling, the vast majority of Americans would disagree with the WHPA's policy implications. Seventy-two percent of Americans support banning abortion after 15 weeks, which would be illegal under the WHPA, and roughly half believe in banning abortion after six weeks. Only 10 percent of Americans support legalizing abortion up to birth.
Under the WHPA, in order for any regulation on abortion access to be legal, legislators would have to prove that the limitation both "significantly advances the safety of abortion services or the health of patients" and that "the safety of abortion services or the health of patients cannot be advanced by a less restrictive alternative measure."
"As members of a health care profession that is 90 percent female," the union's letter reads, "nurses understand that abortion is an essential part of health care, and that a patient’s right to control their own body is at the very basis of a free and just society."
National Nurses United goes on to call for a suspension of the filibuster, which they call "archaic and anti-democratic," to pass the pro-abortion legislation. According to the union, the bill would effectively codify Roe v. Wade into law, but critics of the bill say the WHPA goes much farther than Roe did in restricting the rights of states to regulate abortion. Per the Heritage Institute, if passed, the WHPA would strike down pro-life policies that were legal under Roe. Additionally, the Family Research Council warns that the bill could abolish the Hyde Amendment, opening the door t0 federally funded abortions.
In justifying their support for the WHPA, the nurses' union cites the "basic tenets of ethical health care," arguing that the ability to get an abortion is covered by a patient’s right to "autonomy, self-determination, and dignity over their bodies, their lives, and the health care they receive."