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GOP lawmaker introduces bill to increase resources for pregnant women

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As controversy swirls around a Texas law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill aimed at offering assistance to pregnant women.

Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduced the Care for Her Act, legislation that seeks to bridge gaps between existing resources for women facing unplanned pregnancies.

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The bill would not restrict abortion. Instead, it would make expectant mothers eligible for the existing child tax credit. It would also create “a new Federal-State entity” to access and publicize resources for expectant mothers and families, including job training and food and housing resources, as well as provide grants for those services. It would also incentivize states to improve maternal and child health outcomes by awarding grants to states that reduce their maternal and infant mortality rates.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of the antiabortion organization New Wave Feminists, told the Washington Examiner that the bill "is exactly the type of law I would like to see passed."

"It focuses on the reality of how do we help women during this difficult time," Herndon-De La Rosa said. "Providing these resources helps women feel they have a true choice."

Estimates for the cost of the bill start at $22 billion a year in spending, and its path forward is not clear in a House under Democratic control. But Fortenberry described the effort as an investment in a vulnerable population.

“I am pleased that so many of my colleagues are joining with me to say we should be big enough and generous enough to care for a woman and her child who need help in times of vulnerability,” he said in a statement. “This is our chance to support a woman with an unexpected pregnancy all the way through birth and child-rearing. Care for Her establishes a community of care for the journey of life.”

In a statement, Rep. Young Kim, a California Republican who co-sponsored the Care for Her Act, said, “No expecting mother should feel alone.”

“Unfortunately, many women are not aware of the local, state, and federal resources available to them, especially during an unplanned pregnancy,” Kim said. “As a mother of four, I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Care for Her Act to strengthen the outreach and effectiveness of programs for education, mentoring, housing and other support services for pregnant women and their children.”

The Care for Her Act was introduced after the Supreme Court declined an emergency request to block Texas's Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, on procedural grounds last week. The Texas law prohibits abortion after six weeks unless a woman’s life is in danger. It also permits any person to bring a civil action against anyone who performs an abortion procedure or “aids or abets” an abortion procedure.

House Democrats vowed to respond to the Texas law with federal legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that she will bring the Women’s Health Protection Act up for a vote later this month. The legislation would prohibit certain state-level abortion restrictions, including bans prior to fetal viability, as well as mandatory ultrasounds or waiting periods before a procedure.

In a statement, Pelosi called SB8 “the most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century,” adding that “its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade.”

“This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade,” she said.

Although the Women’s Health Protection Act will likely pass in the House, its path forward in the Senate is not clear, where it has 48 co-sponsors, but it is unlikely to break the 60-vote threshold to proceed.

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In a joint statement last week, sponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act, including Democrats Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Rep. Judy Chu of California, praised Pelosi for scheduling the bill for a vote.

“Congress must act now and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act before other states follow the lead of Texas and institute restrictions that eviscerate reproductive healthcare and choice,” the Democratic lawmakers said.

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Tags: News, Abortion, Texas, Congress, Nancy Pelosi

Original Author: Kate Scanlon

Original Location: GOP lawmaker introduces bill to increase resources for pregnant women

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