Congresswoman Judy Chu details the fight to re-codify reproductive rights

On Sept. 11th U.S. Rep. Judy Chu D-Ca. spoke to students and faculty at Scripps College about reproductive justice. (Courtesy: Scripps Laspa Center)

This Monday, Scripps College Public Events and the Laspa Center for Leadership hosted U.S. Rep. Judy Chu D-Ca., who serves California’s 28th district in Congress, for a presentation and Q&A about reproductive healthcare and justice.

Around 40 students and faculty members gathered to hear Representative Chu’s talk, with some students citing political awareness in Claremont as their reason for attending.

“I am very passionate about fighting for reproductive rights and I wanted to become more familiar with the local politics in Claremont regarding this issue,” Abbie Bobeck SC ’26 told TSL via email.

Chu started her presentation by giving a brief history of abortion rights in the United States, stating that anti-abortion extremists have worked to “systematically chip away” reproductive justice since the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

Chu highlighted her work spearheading the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would establish a federal right for healthcare workers to provide abortion services and for patients to receive abortion care, regardless of state-level bans.

“We need to ensure that in addition to protecting patients themselves, we make sure states are not criminalizing abortion providers simply for providing needed healthcare,” Chu said.

The WHPA is the House Democrats’ second priority for all legislation this year. The bill has passed through the House twice but has not made it through the Senate. If WHPA is approved by both the House and Senate, Chu said President Biden has promised to sign it into law.

During the talk, a representative from Chu’s team passed around index cards for audience members to write questions on for a subsequent Q&A session along with Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, Dr. Noah Nattel.

Nattel answered Chu’s questions about the risks of abortion restrictions, citing medical, personal and familial complications. He said that in states where performing abortion is criminalized for healthcare workers, there is an ongoing “mass exodus” of abortion providers.

“This is their calling in life, and there is a lot of reward to providing abortion care,” Nattel said. “There is so little in medicine that can be done so simply, so safely, that can really change the trajectory of somebody’s life. I would be devastated if I lost that ability.”

Both Chu and Nattel noted gender, race and class as critical elements in abortion access.

“It’s a simple fact of our country that if you are rich, white and well-connected, abortion will always be an option for you,” Chu said. “But there will be severe consequences for those who are not.”

After participating in the Q&A, Ella Alpert SC ’26 emphasized the importance of privileged students engaging in difficult reproductive justice discourse.

“It is a privilege to be able to talk about this and not have experienced any of that firsthand,” Alpert said. “I think for those of us in that position having those kinds of conversations can be saddening, can be uncomfortable, but we have to use that as fuel.”

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