A bill that would overturn hundreds of state abortion restrictions and guarantee the right to abortion “without limitations” was introduced Tuesday by a coalition of Congressional Democrats, who said it was needed with Roe v Wade under attack.
The bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, would codify Roe v. Wade and legal abortion in federal law – goals that President Biden set during his 2020 campaign.
It has 48 co-sponsors in the Senate and 176 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. All are Democrats. The 224 co-sponsors represent 80 percent of the Democratic coalition, according to Newsweek.
The bill says its purpose is to “permit health care providers to provide abortion services without limitations or requirements.” The bill’s legislative findings note that nearly 500 abortion restrictions have passed on the local and state level since 2011.
Pro-life groups criticized the bill.
“This egregious, deceptively named bill is the latest example of Washington Democrats’ extreme abortion agenda,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “While most Americans want reasonable pro-life protections for unborn children, pro-abortion Democrats are moving swiftly in the opposite direction. This radical bill would destroy existing pro-life protections at the state level and prevent future pro-life limits from being enacted. This is a direct attack on the will of the people, as demonstrated by the groundswell of pro-life legislation we’ve seen this year.”
Under the bill, abortion laws and regulations are illegal if they “do not significantly advance reproductive health or the safety of abortion services.” For a law to be legal, it cannot “make abortion services more difficult to access,” the bill says. Further, the bill says, abortion laws and regulations cannot “single out” abortion services with restrictions “that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures.”
The bill explicitly says it “supersedes” all state laws. It also lists a dozen restrictions that are illegal under the act. Among those that are illegal:
- laws that restrict an abortion at “any point” before fetal viability.
- laws that restrict abortion after fetal viability when the pregnancy would “pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
- laws that limit abortion services via telemedicine.
- laws requiring the abortion doctor to “perform specific tests or medical procedures.” Under this, laws that require the doctor to test for a fetal heartbeat – and that give the woman the option to listen to it – would be illegal.
- laws requiring that a woman “make one or more medically unnecessary” visits to the clinic. Under this, waiting periods (such as 24 or 48 hours) would be illegal.
“A health care provider has a statutory right to provide abortion services,” the bill says.
The pro-life group Live Action said the bill would “ensure a woman can have an abortion for any reason at all through all nine months of pregnancy.”
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/Muni Yogeshwaran
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.