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Congress considering bill to lock in Roe v. Wade

John Burger - published on 06/16/21 - updated on 06/16/21

Women's Health Protection Act would ensure legality of abortion, no matter what Supreme Court decides.

With a Supreme Court poised to reexamine Roe v. Wade, and with more justices on the bench who are considered to be “pro-life,” Congress has stepped up efforts to codify the 1973 ruling that permits abortion nationwide.

Bill would permit abortion if Roe v. Wade is struck down

Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), along with several U.S. representatives, have reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would assure the continued legality of abortion, even if the high court strikes down Roe.

“WHPA would create a statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access, according to a website in support of the measure. “The elimination of abortion restrictions is central to Reproductive Justice and the human right to maintain bodily autonomy and to live in safe and sustainable communities.”

According to NBC News, the bill was introduced in the 117th Congress by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX), as well as Blumenthal and Baldwin. 

“With the Supreme Court set to consider a direct attack on Roe and as emboldened and extremist lawmakers viciously attack women’s reproductive rights in statehouses across the nation, the Women’s Health Protection Act has never been more urgent or more necessary,” Blumenthal told NBC, referring to the court’s decision last month to take up Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy along with a number of pro-life bills being enacted in various states. 

Bill would end restrictions on abortion

Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said in a statement that the WHPA essentially would remove all legal protections for unborn children on the federal and state level. 

“The Women’s Health Protection Act is, in effect, a no-limits-on-abortion-until-birth bill,” Tobias said.  “This legislation endangers women and their unborn children, would expand taxpayer funding of abortion and would no longer require that a woman be given information about the development of her unborn child.”

National Right to Life said that the measure also would end bans on elective abortions being performed after 20 weeks “when an unborn child is capable of feeling pain,” and bans on the use of abortion as a method of sex selection.”

“The bill would also invalidate most previously enacted federal limits on abortion, including federal conscience protection laws and most, if not all, limits on government funding of abortion,” the organization said.

Though the legislation has been introduced in every congressional session since 2013, it has never come up for a vote. Two forces this year converge to give it more traction: the very real possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned and support from the Administration. 

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris voiced support for congressional efforts to codify Roe.


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