Respect for Women Act of 2022
To provide preliminary protection against threats to women’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Respect for Women Act of 2022.”
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) Sex-based classifications causing an invidious effect on women include, but are not limited to, state restrictions on a woman’s ability to lawfully decide to terminate her pregnancy where those restrictions:
(A) do not provide an exception during the period prior to fetal viability for the circumstance where the pregnancy, as asserted by a woman and reflected in a confidential medical record, was the result of rape, other coercion, or incest; and
(B) do not provide an exception for the circumstance where continuing the pregnancy would, in the opinion of the woman’s health care provider, risk putting the life or health of the woman at risk.
(2) The ability freely to make to decisions about intimate, private, personal matters has come to be understood by a substantial majority of Americans to be — and is — among the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) ABORTION SERVICES. — The term “abortion services” means an abortion and any medical or non-medical services related to and provided in conjunction with an abortion (whether or not provided at the same time or on the same day as the abortion).
(2) FETAL VIABILITY. — The term “fetal viability” means the point in a pregnancy at which, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, based on the particular facts of the case before the health care provider, there is a reasonable likelihood of sustained fetal survival outside the uterus with or without artificial support.
(3) STATE. — The term “State” includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and each territory and possession of the United States, and any subdivision of any of the foregoing, including any unit of local government, such as a county, city, town, village, or other general purpose political subdivision of a State.
SEC. 4. PROHIBITIONS.
Pursuant to the power of Congress under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment – specifically, the rights of women to equal protection, to substantive due process, and to enjoy the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States – States are prohibited from enacting or enforcing any restrictions on abortion services that do not provide for the exceptions set out in subsection 1 of Section 2 of this Act. Any such restrictions are herewith deemed null and void.
SEC. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE.
This Act shall take effect immediately upon the date of enactment of this Act.
SEC. 6. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.
(a) In general. — In interpreting the provisions of this Act, a court shall liberally construe such provisions to effectuate the purposes of the Act.
(b) Other individuals considered as government officials. — Any person who, by operation of a provision of State law, is purported to be permitted to implement or enforce a limitation or requirement that violates section 4 of this Act shall be considered a government official for purposes of this Act.
(c) No implication intended. — This Act is not intended to imply, and shall not be construed as implying, either a decision by Congress to ratify any existing state limitations on abortion, or a decision by Congress that it cannot or should not proscribe State restrictions on abortion beyond those specified in the subsections A and B of paragraph 1 of Section 2 of this Act.
SEC. 7. ENFORCEMENT.
(a) Attorney General. — The Attorney General may commence a civil action on behalf of the United States against any State and against any government official (including a person described in section 6(b)) that implements or enforces one or more restrictions that violate Section 4 of this Act. The court shall hold unlawful and set aside the limitation or requirement if it is in violation of this Act.
(b) Private Right Of Action. —
(1) IN GENERAL. — Any individual or entity, including any health care provider or patient, adversely affected by an alleged violation of this Act, may commence a civil action against any State and against any government official (including a person described in section 6(b)) that implements or enforces one or more restrictions that violate Section 4 of this Act. The court shall hold unlawful and set aside the limitation or requirement if it is in violation of this Act.
(2) HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. — A health care provider may commence an action for relief on its own behalf, on behalf of the provider’s staff, and on behalf of the provider’s patients who are or may be adversely affected by an alleged violation of this Act.
(c) Equitable Relief. — In any action under this section, the court may award appropriate equitable relief, including temporary, preliminary, or permanent injunctive relief.
(d) Costs. — In any action under this section, the court shall award costs of litigation, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees, to any prevailing plaintiff. A plaintiff shall not be liable to a defendant for costs or attorney’s fees in any non-frivolous action under this section.
(e) Jurisdiction. — The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this Act and shall exercise the same without regard to whether the party aggrieved shall have exhausted any administrative or other remedies that may be provided for by law.
(f) Abrogation Of State Immunity. —Neither a State that enforces or maintains, nor a government official (including a person described in section 6(b)) who is permitted to implement or enforce one or more restrictions that violate Section 4 of this Act shall be immune under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or any other source of law, from an action in a Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction challenging such restrictions.
SEC. 8. SEVERABILITY.
If any provision of this Act, or the application of such provision to any person, entity, government, or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, or the application of such provision to all other persons, entities, governments, or circumstances, shall not be affected thereby.