The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Friday voted along party lines to restore abortion rights nationwide but the measure has no chance of passing the evenly divided Senate.
The 219-210 vote is the second time the House has sought to codify the provisions of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which the Supreme Court overturned in a recent decision.
“The Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to the fundamental rights by overturning Roe v. Wade,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of the votes, gathering with other Democratic women on the steps of the Capitol. “It is outrageous that 50 years later, women must again fight for our most basic rights.”
The bill has no chance of becoming law because anti-abortion Republicans hold effective veto power in the Senate.
The vote does signal the start of a new legislative era as lawmakers on all levels of American government respond to the politically earth-shaking impact of the top court’s decision.
The legislation passed with the support of all Democrats except one: conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). Every single Republican voted no.
The House was also voting on a separate bill to prohibit punishment for a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to get an abortion.
Republicans praised the Supreme Court’s decision and claimed the law would go further than Roe v. Wade in permitting abortion.
In overturning Roe, the court has allowed states to enact strict abortion limits, including many that had previously been deemed unconstitutional, including near-total bans in roughly half the states.
Already, a number of GOP-controlled states have moved quickly to curtail or outlaw abortion, while states controlled by Democrats have sought to champion access. Voters now rank abortion as among 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.
This is the second time the House has passed the bill, which would expand on the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.
The bill, which President Biden backs, would prevent abortion bans earlier than 24 weeks, which is when a human fetus is generally considered able to survive outside the mother’s uterus. It allows exceptions for abortions after that point in pregnancy for the health of the mother.
The bill that would prohibit punishment for traveling out of state would also specify that doctors can’t be punished for providing reproductive care outside their home state.
Democrats have highlighted the case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had to cross state lines to get an abortion after being raped, calling it an example of how the court’s decision already has outrageous unforeseen consequences.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has already launched a digital ad campaign to energize voters on the issue, warning that Republicans’ ultimate goal is to outlaw abortion nationwide.
“We have to elect a couple more Democratic senators so that we can get around the filibuster so that we can pass legislation that truly impacts a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “There’s no halfway measure.”