Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that Congress will vote on a controversial pro-choice bill that would legalize abortion “without limitations” nationwide and would overturn hundreds of state-level abortion restrictions, including Texas’ fetal heartbeat ban.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) made the remarks hours after the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, refused to block the Texas law, which arguably is the most significant abortion restriction since the high court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Pelosi asserted it is the “most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century.”
“This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi said. “Upon our return, the House will bring up Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act, if passed, would codify Roe v. Wade into law – thus guaranteeing legalized abortion even if the Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark decision.
The text of 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 abortions restrictions have passed on the local and state level since 2011.
The bill explicitly says it “supercedes” all state laws.
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.”
A new Texas law requires doctors to conduct a test for a fetal heartbeat. If one is detected, then the doctor is prohibited from performing an abortion. It allows exceptions for medical emergencies.
Further, the text of the law prohibits state officials from enforcing the law. Instead, it allows a citizen to sue anyone who “performs or induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The law allows civil damages of at least $10,000 for each suit.
“This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman’s right to health care but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target,” Pelosi said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds/Stringer
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.