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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

House to vote on bills that would restore abortion rights. But the Senate’s chances remain slim

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The House is set to vote Friday on two bills that would restore and guarantee abortion access nationwide as Democrats voted in Roe v. The first attempt to respond legislatively to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Wade.

With a 50-50 lack of necessary support in the Senate, the law has little chance of becoming law. Yet the vote marks the beginning of a new era in abortion debate as lawmakers, governors and legislatures grapple with the impact of the court’s decision.

“Just three weeks ago the Supreme Court took a disastrous ball for fundamental rights by overturning Roe v. Wade,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while gathering with other Democratic women on the steps of the Capitol before the vote. “It is outrageous that 50 years later, women will have to fight again for our most basic rights against an extremist court.”

One of the bills would prohibit punishment for a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to have an abortion. The second would ensure that abortion access is safe under federal law and would expand on the protections previously provided by Roe.

Republicans spoke out forcefully against the law, praising the Supreme Court’s decision and warning that the bill would go further than Rowe when it comes to legalizing abortion.

Urging her colleagues not to vote, Washington GOP Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers called abortion “the biggest human rights issue of our generation.”

She said the Democratic law “has nothing to do with protecting women’s health. It has everything to do with imposing extreme agendas on the American people.”

By reversing the row, the court has allowed states to impose stricter abortion limits, including many that were previously deemed unconstitutional. The decision is expected to ban abortion in almost half of the states.

Already, many GOP-controlled states have moved swiftly to prohibit or prevent abortion, while Democrat-controlled states have sought to champion access. Voters now regard abortion as one of 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.

Democrats have uncovered the case of a 10-year-old girl who had to cross the state border in Indiana to have an abortion after being raped, an example of how the court’s decision is already having dire consequences.

“We don’t have to imagine why it matters. We don’t have to imagine things. We already know what happened,” Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on the Senate floor Thursday.

“Should that jeopardize the right of a 10-year-old, or the right of a 12-year-old, or the right to care for a 14-year-old?”

watch: How the Rape of a Young Girl in Ohio Became a Flashpoint on the Abortion Debate

The Constitution does not explicitly state that travel between states is a right, although the Supreme Court has stated that it is a right that is “strongly established and recognized time and again.” Yet the court never said where the right to travel came from and could leave it open to challenge or abolition, as did the right to abortion.

For example, earlier this year Missouri lawmakers considered making it illegal to “aid or abet” abortions that violate Missouri law, even if they were out-of-state. The proposal was eventually shelved.

The Bill, which prohibits punishment for traveling outside the state, will also specify that doctors cannot be penalized for providing fertility care outside their home state. One of the bill’s authors, Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, said the threat to travel “failed to reflect the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution”.

The second bill would expand on the protections that Roe had previously provided by restricting proponents, which are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortion. This would prevent a ban on abortion before 24 weeks, which is when fetal viability, the human embryo’s ability to survive outside the uterus, usually begins. It allows exceptions for abortions after the viability of the fetus when a provider determines that the life or health of the mother is at risk.

Democrats’ proposal would also prevent states from asking providers to share “medically incorrect” information, or from requiring additional testing or waiting periods, often aimed at preventing a patient from having an abortion.

Democrats prepare to pass other bills in the coming weeks. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, said Friday that the House will vote next week on legislation guaranteeing the right to contraception.

GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who supports a nationwide ban on abortion, on Thursday accused his aides of trying to “inflame” the abortion issue. He said supporters of the Travel Bill should ask themselves, “Does the unborn child have the right to travel in his future?”

Only two Senate Republicans, sans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have been supporters of abortion rights, but they do not support the Democrat’s proposal, calling it too far-reaching. They have introduced alternative legislation that would prevent states, among other provisions, from placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.

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.”

watch: Pelosi says Supreme Court’s abortion ruling is a ‘violation of Americans’ rights’

Since the court’s decision last month, some activists have accused President Joe Biden and other top Democrats of failing to respond adequately to the decision. Biden, who last week described the court’s decision as “extreme,” issued an executive order aimed at allowing women seeking abortions to face some potential penalties. His administration has also warned medical providers to offer abortions if the mother’s life is in danger.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has already launched a digital advertising campaign to energize voters on the issue, warning that Republicans’ ultimate goal is to stop abortion nationwide.

“We have to elect a few more Democratic senators so that we can get around the filibuster so that we can pass legislation that really affects a woman’s right to be elected,” she said. “There’s no half-measure.”

Associated Press writer Jessica Gresco contributed to this report.

World Nation News Desk
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