Protecting abortion, not women
Democrats in Congress reintroduce a bill to undo state pro-life legislative progress
Democratic senators last week reintroduced a radical pro-abortion bill in reaction to pro-life progress in state legislatures and the Supreme Court. The Women’s Health Protection Act, first introduced in 2013 as a resurrected version of the Freedom of Choice Act, would invalidate many state and federal laws regulating abortion and prevent states from passing new pro-life laws.
The bill has never made it far in Congress, but it has increased support in the Senate this time around. Every Democratic senator except Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania co-sponsored it.
During a subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut cited the Guttmacher Institute’s 2021 tally of pro-life state bills: As of June 7, 47 states considered 561 protections for babies and women, and 16 states had enacted 83 of them into law. “I want to emphasize that these are laws that are advocated and passed by extremist state legislatures who are out of touch with mainstream America,” he said.
But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pointed out the extremism of the response. He said some of the subjects of the bills—such as care for babies born alive after attempted abortions and protections against brutal dismemberment and eugenic abortions based on race, sex, or disability—should be “completely uncontroversial.” he said.
“All of these are commonsense laws, laws that every American should be able to support,” he said. “But today’s elected Democrats are so radical, so hostile to unborn life that they not only oppose these laws, they are working to protect these inhumane acts.”
Democrats for years have called for the codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law. This bill would go beyond that, restricting states from passing specific regulations to protect the unborn and their mothers such as required ultrasounds and making sure abortionists have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. “Even Roe recognized that states have an interest in protecting potential human life,” Cruz said.
Vice President Kamala Harris sponsored past versions of the Women’s Health Protection Act as a senator. While on the 2020 campaign trail, Harris unveiled a plan to put state pro-life laws through a Department of Justice pre-screening process. That concept made it onto the Biden-Harris agenda and will likely surface again.
“In years past, the architects of the WHPA intended it only to serve as a tool for fundraising appeals and had no intention of allowing even a Democrat-controlled Senate to actually vote on it,” National Right to Life Committee’s Jennifer Popik said. In 2014, Blumenthal blocked a request to call the bill up for a vote. But Popik said that could change this time, especially as the Supreme Court prepares to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that will test the constitutionality of a Mississippi law protecting babies from abortion after 15 weeks of gestation.
“With so many members committing public support to the measure, we are concerned that the WHPA will garner much more attention this Congress, particularly once the Supreme Court issues a ruling,” Popik said.
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