House makes first attempt to protect abortion in post-Roe era
WASHINGTON — The House is set to vote Friday on two bills that would restore and guarantee access to abortion nationwide as Democrats attempt for the first time to respond legislatively to the landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v . Wade.
The legislation has almost no chance of becoming law, with the necessary support lacking in the Senate 50-50. Still, the vote marks the start of a new era in the abortion debate as lawmakers, governors and legislatures grapple with the impact of the court’s decision. By overturning Roe, the court allowed states to enact strict limits on abortion, many of which had previously been ruled unconstitutional. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.
Already, a number of GOP-controlled states have moved quickly to restrict or ban abortion, while Democratic-controlled states have sought to defend access. Voters now rank abortion among the most pressing issues facing the country, a shift in priorities that Democrats hope will reshape the political landscape in their favor for the midterm elections.
Ahead of the House vote, Democrats highlighted the case of a 10-year-old girl who had to cross state lines in Indiana to get an abortion after being raped, calling it an example of the way the court’s decision is already having serious consequences.
“We don’t have to imagine why this might matter. We don’t need to speculate. We already know what happened,” Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said Thursday in the Senate. .
“Should the right of the next 10-year-old, 12-year-old or 14-year-old girl to get the care she desperately needs be jeopardized?
In the House, Democrats introduced two abortion bills on Friday, one of which would make it illegal to punish a woman or child who decides to travel to another state for an abortion. It clarifies that doctors cannot be punished for providing reproductive care outside their country of origin.
The Constitution does not explicitly say that interstate travel is a right, although the Supreme Court has said it is a “firmly established and repeatedly recognized” right. Yet the court never said exactly where the right to travel comes from and that could leave it open to challenge or elimination, as the right to abortion was.
Missouri lawmakers earlier this year, for example, considered making it illegal to “aid or abet” abortions that violate Missouri law, even if they occur outside the state. The proposal was ultimately dropped.
The second House bill, first passed in September but stalled in the Senate, would enshrine access to abortion as protected under federal law. It would also expand the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters see as medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.
“The bill brings Roe v. Wade into the law of the land and protects it from some of the assaults that have occurred since it was struck down by the Supreme Court,” House Speaker Nancy said Thursday. Pelosi, D-California.
This would prevent bans on abortions before 24 weeks, when fetal viability, the ability of a human fetus to survive outside the womb, is generally thought to begin. The bill allows exceptions for abortions after fetal viability when a provider determines that the life or health of the mother is in danger.
The Democrats’ proposal would also prevent states from requiring providers to share “medically inaccurate” information, or requiring additional tests or waiting times, often intended to deter a patient from having an abortion.
Republicans celebrated the end of Roe v. Wade and are expected to overwhelmingly oppose both bills, denouncing them as extreme. GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who supports a nationwide ban on abortion, accused his colleagues opposite on Thursday of seeking to “inflame” the abortion issue. He said supporters of the travel bill should ask themselves: “Does the child in the womb have the right to travel in its future?”
Only two Senate Republicans, the senses. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have supported abortion rights, but they do not support the Democrats’ proposal, calling it too ambitious. They introduced alternative legislation that would prevent states from placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion before fetal viability, among other provisions.
When pressed on Thursday whether Democrats should work with the two senators, Pelosi pushed back, “We’re not going to negotiate a woman’s right to choose.”
Since the court ruling last month, some activists have accused President Joe Biden and other leading Democrats of not responding forcefully enough to the ruling. Biden, who denounced the court’s decision as “extreme”, issued an executive order last week aimed at avoiding some potential penalties that women who seek abortions could face. Her administration has also warned health care providers that they must offer abortion if the mother’s life is in danger.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has already launched a digital ad campaign to energize voters on the issue, warning that Republicans’ ultimate goal is to ban abortion nationwide.
“We need to elect a few more Democratic senators so we can get around the filibuster so we can pass legislation that actually affects a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “There are no half measures.”
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.