WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House June 8 “would invalidate nearly all existing state limitations on abortion,” said Jennifer Popik, director of federal legislation for National Right to Life.
“This legislation would also prohibit states from adopting new protective laws in the future, including various types of laws specifically upheld as constitutionally permissible by the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said in a June 9 statement.
The measure was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and in the House by Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. Blumenthal first introduced the measure in 2013 and has reintroduced it off and on over the years.
The current measure has 48 Democrats as co-sponsors in the Senate; Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., are not co-sponsoring it. In the House, there are 176 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said the measure “would essentially remove all legal protections for unborn children on the federal and state level. The Women’s Health Protection Act is, in effect, a no-limits-on-abortion-until-birth bill.”
“Tragically, the only ones to benefit from such a law would be abortionists and abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood,” she added. “This legislation endangers women and their unborn children, would expand taxpayer funding of abortion and would no longer require that a woman be given information about the development of her unborn child.”
The House and Senate bills would codify Roe v. Wade in law and establish the legal right to abortion in all 50 states under federal law.
The bill would nullify requirements to provide women seeking abortion with specific information on their unborn child and on alternatives to abortion; laws requiring a waiting period before a woman receives and abortion; laws allowing medical professionals to opt out of providing abortions; and laws stating that only licensed physicians can perform abortions.
According to National Right to Life, the measure also would end bans on elective abortions being performed after 20 weeks “when an unborn child is capable of feeling pain,” it said, and bans on the use of abortion as a method of sex selection.”
“Anti-sex selection laws generally have broad public support in the states in which they are enacted, including support from substantial majorities of women,” said a news release from National Right to Life.
“The bill would also invalidate most previously enacted federal limits on abortion, including federal conscience protection laws and most, if not all, limits on government funding of abortion,” the organization said.
The introductory paragraph in the companion bills states the aim is “to protect a person’s ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services.”
Ahead of the November 2020 election, now-President Joe Biden and his running mate, now-Vice President Kamala Harris, had vowed to support congressional efforts to codify Roe in the event that Roe is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Biden also expressed his support for repealing the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.
The president’s American Rescue Plan became law in March with no Hyde Amendment language, and on May 28, the president released his federal budget proposal without the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in spending bills since 1976.
In separate statements the same day, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, acknowledged the Biden budget proposal has a number of provisions to help vulnerable Americans but said it is remiss in leaving out Hyde, which protects the most vulnerable — the unborn.