August 04, 2022

Van Hollen, Murray, Duckworth Introduce Bill to Help Women with Disabilities Access Reproductive Health Care

The Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act would remove barriers and strengthen access to reproductive care for people with disabilities

 U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) in introducing the Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act to help ensure women with disabilities—who face discrimination and extra barriers when seeking care—can access reproductive services and get the informed care they need to have control over their own reproductive lives.

While women with disabilities have long faced discrimination and barriers to having full access to health care, the Dobbs decision has made it much more difficult for women with disabilities to get the informed reproductive health care they need. Right now, the roughly one in four adults with a disability are less likely to receive contraception counseling and timely prenatal care, are at greater risks for adverse pregnancy outcomes, and all too often lack access to accessible health care facilities and face a dearth of providers trained on the unique and diverse needs of people with disabilities.

The Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act will eliminate barriers to sexual and reproductive health care for people with disabilities by:

  • Providing grant funding to carry out training programs for existing health care professionals providing reproductive health care for people with disabilities; 
  • Providing funding to carry out education and training programs to recruit and train people with disabilities in the healthcare workforce;
  • Providing grant funding to carry out sexual and reproductive health care education programs for people with disabilities;
  • Establishing a new technical assistance center to provide recommendations and best practices regarding sexual and reproductive health care for people with disabilities; and
  • Directing the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out a study to analyze reproductive health care for people with disabilities. 

The legislation is endorsed by: National Disability Rights Network; National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities; Dr. Jamila Taylor, Director of Health Care Reform and Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation; Kimberly Knackstedt, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative and Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation; URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity; Johns Hopkins School of Nursing; Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center; Physicians for Reproductive Health; Catholics for Choice; National Partnership for Women and Families; Power to Decide; Docs With Disabilities Initiative; NARAL Pro-Choice America; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice; Center for American Progress; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Advocates for Youth; Center for Reproductive Rights; and National Council of Jewish Women.

The legislation introduced by Senators Murray and Duckworth is cosponsored in addition to Senator Van Hollen by Senators Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Reed (D-R.I.), Smith (D-Minn.), Hassan (D-N.H.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Warren (D-Mass.), Sanders (I-Vt.), and Booker (D-N.J.). 

Read a one-pager on the bill here. Read full legislative text here.