Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2021 / 18:01 pm (CNA).
Pro-life leaders warn that an “egregious” bill introduced this week in Congress would override most state abortion regulations, require health care workers to perform abortions, and mandate federal funding of abortion.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), along with Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), re-introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act on Tuesday.
The bill has been introduced in each Congress since 2013, but has never received a vote in either chamber. In a joint release, the member offices said the bill has 48 total co-sponsors in the Senate and 176 in the House.
If it were enacted into law, the bill would grant patients the right to undergo an abortion, and health care workers the right to perform an abortion. It would prohibit states from restricting abortions through laws requiring mandatory ultrasounds or waiting periods before an abortion. It would also block restrictions on pre-viability abortions and on the method of abortions.
Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, told CNA in an email that the “misnamed Women’s Health Protection Act seeks to foist Congressional Democrats’ radical abortion agenda on the American public.”
“Among other extreme policies, the bill would eliminate nearly all state laws that regulate abortion and force objecting hospitals and medical professionals to perform or participate in the life-ending procedure,” McClusky said. “It would also do away with popular pro-life riders like the Hyde amendment which protect Americans from paying for abortions with their tax dollars.”
He argued that Democrats “have decided to serve the abortion lobby’s interests over the American public which opposes unlimited abortions paid for by taxpayers.”
In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, called the bill “egregious” and “deceptively named.”
“While most Americans want reasonable pro-life protections for unborn children, pro-abortion Democrats are moving swiftly in the opposite direction,” Dannenfelser said. “This radical bill would destroy existing pro-life protections at the state level and prevent future pro-life limits from being enacted.”
“This a direct attack on the will of the people as demonstrated by the groundswell of pro-life legislation we’ve seen this year,” she said.
The lawmakers described the re-introduction of the bill as a response to the Supreme Court taking up the case of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
In a statement, Chu said in light of that case, “the fight to protect abortion rights for all Americans is more critical than ever.”
Mississippi’s law “is part of a deliberate strategy by anti-abortion extremists to use state laws and the courts to slowly chip away at abortion access, with nearly 500 restrictive laws introduced in states since just 2011,” she said.
“That is why we need the Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure that no matter where you live, what your background is, or what your zip code, you have the same rights to make decisions about your own body as anyone else,” she said.
Blumenthal said in a statement that the Dobbs case means the high court will “consider a direct attack on Roe and as emboldened and extremist lawmakers viciously attack women’s reproductive rights in statehouses across the nation.”
He argued that the Women’s Health Protection Act “has never been more urgent or more necessary.”
“These demagogic and draconian laws hurt women and families as they make personal and difficult medical decisions,” Blumenthal said.
“This issue is about more than health care, it’s about human rights—all our rights. I’m proud to join this historic coalition of lawmakers in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act and look forward to taking the next step towards seeing it passed into law by holding a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee on the bill next week,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris, while she ran for president in 2019, had proposed a policy based off a previous version of the Women’s Health Protection Act – which she co-sponsored as a senator.
As a presidential candidate, Harris promised that her Justice Department would review any state abortion restrictions to ensure they complied with Roe v. Wade and the Women’s Health Protection Act.
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