Republicans in Congress are starting this year just like they did last year: pushing anti-abortion legislation.
House Republicans approved a pair of anti-choice bills on Thursday — one day before the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., which House Speaker Mike Johnson (R) is headlining, and just days before what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Both proposals are likely to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
At first glance, both bills appear to help pregnant people and newborns. The Pregnant Students’ Rights Act purports to ensure certain rights and resources to pregnant students on college campuses, and the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act seeks to use federal funds toward pregnancy centers that support mothers and newborns.
In reality, both bills are full of anti-choice rhetoric and misinformation that Republicans have used time and time again to quietly roll back the rights of people with the capacity for pregnancy.
“Both of these bills, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health at the National Women’s Law Center, told reporters in a press briefing Friday.
The bill to protect pregnant students only promises to offer resources to those who carry the pregnancy to term, and it assumes that students experiencing an unplanned pregnancy face pressure “to receive an abortion or risk academic failure.” The proposed legislation also lists several lies used by the anti-choice movement, including that abortion causes breast cancer and harms women’s mental health. Both points have been disproven by medical professionals, and research shows that 95% of women who have abortions felt their decision was the right one for them.
The second bill approved by House Republicans is more dangerous than the first. Spearheaded by Republican Rep. Michelle Fishbach (Minn.), the legislation seeks to block a new Biden administration rule that prohibits using federal dollars from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federal welfare program, toward “pregnancy resource centers.”
These pregnancy resource centers are actually anti-abortion centers, sometimes referred to as crisis pregnancy centers, which are faith-based organizations that claim to offer pregnancy services like pregnancy tests, contraception, prenatal care and, in some cases, abortion services. But pregnant women who come in are discouraged from having abortions and given scientifically inaccurate information by staff that many times do not have medical training or licenses.
“This administration and my colleagues on the left claimed that they want to give pregnant women every option. But if that were true, they would have no problem with this bill,” Fishbach said during floor debate. “The fact is the left is only interested in funding avenues that encourage women to have abortions.”
Several states already use TANF dollars to fund crisis pregnancy centers. At least 16 states have agreed to use more than $250 million in taxpayer money, some of which comes from the federal welfare program, toward crisis pregnancy centers and similar organizations since Roe fell in 2022. Just last year, Florida Republicans voted to give $25 million a year to anti-abortion centers, and Tennessee approved $20 million in new annual funding for similar organizations.
“Rather than helping hardworking American families, Republicans are working to divert federal funds from needy children in order to serve their own extremist agenda that is out of step with the majority of Americans,” Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Calif.) said during floor debate.