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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will bring up a bill that would enshrine into federal law sweeping protections for abortion procedures, essentially codifying the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, when Congress returns later this month.
The move is a response to a restrictive Texas abortion law that the Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to block from going into effect.
“The Supreme Court’s cowardly, dark-of-night decision to uphold a flagrantly unconstitutional assault on women’s rights and health is staggering. That this radically partisan Court chose to do so without a full briefing, oral arguments, or providing a full, signed opinion is shameful,” Pelosi said.
The bill Pelosi will bring up, called the Women’s Health Protection Act, would prohibit states from implementing many kinds of requirements or restrictions that abortion advocates argue infringe on reproductive rights.
Those include requirements to get an ultrasound prior to an abortion, requiring medically unnecessary in-person visits prior to the abortion, restricting providing abortion services via telemedicine, and restricting abortions at any point prior to fetal viability.
It also spells out factors that a court can consider when determining whether a requirement or limitation illegally impedes access to abortion services.
Pelosi said the bill will “enshrine into law reproductive healthcare for all women across America.”
Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat, is the bill’s lead sponsor, and it has 191 additional co-sponsors. Senate companion legislation is led by Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal and has 46 other co-sponsors.
The Texas bill that went into effect this week bans abortion procedures if medical workers have "detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child," but it provides exemptions related to medical emergencies. It also allows individuals to file civil lawsuits against anyone who provides abortions or "aids or abets" abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
Pelosi called the bill “the most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century."
“Its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade, and even refuses to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest," Pelosi said. “This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade.”
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 Wednesday night denying an emergency request to block the bill from going into effect. The justices hinted that they could return to considering the constitutionality of Texas’s bill, saying that their order “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law.”
The abortion rights bill is likely to pass the House, where Democrats have a slim majority. But it would need support from at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to clear the filibuster hurdle in the upper chamber and head to President Joe Biden’s desk.
“When the Supreme Court takes up its reproductive rights case this year, we urge it to uphold, as Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, ‘its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law,’” Pelosi said.
Pelosi, earlier this year, declined to directly answer whether she thought "an unborn baby at 15 weeks is a human being," and instated stated that she is a mother and a "big supporter of Roe v. Wade."
The House is scheduled to return to floor activity on Sept. 20.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks