Nation’s largest union of nurses calls on U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act

Bonnie Castillo, RN, Executive Director, National Nurses United. Photo By Michael Gerometta

NNU urges senators to take a stand for reproductive health justice and codify protections established by Roe v. Wade, ensuring a patient’s right to control their own body, and support the suspension of the filibuster to hold the vote

Today National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of registered nurses in the country, urged the U.S. Senate to “take a stand for reproductive health justice and urgently pass the women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA),” sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and “to suspend the filibuster to allow for a vote on this crucial legislation.”

As members of a female-dominated health care profession, NNU’s letter noted that “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.”

The letter, signed by NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN and NNU Council of Presidents Deborah Burger, RN, Zenei Cortez, RN, and Jean Ross, RN, stated that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “radically abolished 50 years of progress on reproductive rights and represents the largest revocation of health care rights and services ever in American history.” As lives hang in the balance, the Senate must “take immediate action to restore these rights and benefits by passing the WHPA.”

The nurses further urged the Senate to suspend the filibuster so that a vote on the bill can be held on the Senate floor. “We stand with President Biden and urge you to suspend the filibuster to allow for a vote on this crucial legislation on the Senate floor without delay,” they wrote. “The filibuster is an archaic and anti-democratic Senate rule, and it should not stand in the way of restoring women’s reproductive health rights.”

“As nurses, we have a duty to advocate for our patients and their right to make their own health care decisions,” the letter continued. “The basic tenets of ethical health care dictate that patients should enjoy autonomy, self-determination, and dignity over their bodies, their lives, and the health care they receive. Registered nurses understand that abortion is a basic health care service, and codifying the protections established by Roe v. Wade would ensure that patients are able to choose what is best for them.”

The WHPA “establishes a statutory right for health professionals to provide abortion care without any medically unnecessary restrictions or limitations, and a statutory right of patients to receive that care.” The letter also noted, “Without access to abortion services, patients may be at risk of illness and death due to pregnancy or may be at risk of avoidable complications from unsafe and illegal abortion practices.”

“Reproductive health services are also fundamental to ensuring economic justice for women across the country,” the letter concluded. “Working class women and women of color will be particularly hurt by restrictions on abortion access.”