Newly-elected lawmaker is on a ‘mission’ to protect abortion rights nationwide

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Just over two weeks into the job and facing yet another election this November, newly-elected Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) says he’s on a mission to protect abortion rights.

In one of his first official acts in Congress, Ryan has proposed the “Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act.” The bill would expand upon the executive order issued by President Joe Biden this summer to secure access to the abortion pill.

Read the bill here.

“I really feel like I came here with a mission to stand up and fight for these reproductive rights and freedoms and to be able to deliver significant national legislation, just in my second week, I’m really proud of that. I’m a big believer in actions speak louder than words. And so, that’s how I will continue to operate as a member of Congress both fighting for, of course, our constituents in the New York 19th but for all Americans at a moment of real peril for our democracy. It’s an all hands on deck moment for our democracy,” said Ryan.

The Guttmacher Institute says the FDA-approved medication accounts for more than half of all abortions in the country. The FDA has approved the abortion pill as safe and effective for up to ten weeks gestation.

Ryan’s bill would pre-empt state restrictions, protect telehealth, and make Congress draft a report on other ways to protect access to reproductive healthcare.

“In response to an increasingly extreme, far-right, disconnected-from-reality legislation like the National Abortion Ban that Senator Graham proposed, it’s even more urgent that we step up and protect and fight for reproductive freedom. Literally as I was arriving last week to be sworn in and getting off the train with my family, my two young kids, I got an alert that there was a proposal for a national abortion ban and just how absolutely, I think, un-American that is against that fundamental right to freedom and choice that we all believe in and I think share in common,” said Ryan.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s bill would implement a national 15-week abortion ban. The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, and when medically necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life. Yet Graham acknowledged he does not have the votes right now in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate to pass it.

“There is a consensus view by the most prominent pro-life groups in America that this is where America should be at the federal level,” said Graham.

Several other states are also working to implement restrictions on the abortion pill.

As for Ryan’s bill to protect access, he said, “we’re going to work really hard to move it forward. And, it’s part of a package of multiple other pieces of legislation that I’ve co-sponsored and supported to really ensure that that right to make that personal, deeply personal choice, that I risked my life to protect as an Army officer, as a combat veteran that every American should have that is just absolutely essential.”

In August, Ryan won the special election for the 19th district in New York in part due to his promise to protect reproductive freedom. He replaces Rep. Antonio Delgado who left to become the state’s lieutenant governor. Ryan’s term ends this year, so he will have to run again in the election this November. Due to redistricting that changed the election maps in New York, he is running in the 18th congressional district this fall for a full term.

Meanwhile, Ryan has joined other Congressional lawmakers in the Pro-Choice caucus to stand against further restrictions to reproductive healthcare.

“These are members that have been working for years and decades to advance reproductive freedom and choice. So, we’ve got a lot of built-in immediate support there. And then we’re going to continue to work to remind people that it really is a shared American value above party that access to these health care services and the choice to make that decision at the individual level and the family level is very much an American set of values. So, I think we’ll have a broad support and continue to move this forward,” he said.