House votes to restore abortion rights; Senate passage unlikely
(NewsNation) — The House passed two bills Friday that would restore and guarantee abortion access nationwide and protect a woman’s right to travel across state lines to get the procedure.
The House voted 219-210 to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, and 223-205 on the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act.
The vote comes as Democrats respond legislatively to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade. But both bills are likely to face obstacles in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed for passage due to the legislative filibuster, and stand little chance of becoming law.
Pelosi said that she was not going to negotiate a slimmer abortion rights bill that could potentially get through the Senate.
‘We’re not going to negotiate on a woman’s right to choose. Senators Murkowski and Senator Collins may have their view, but it is not one about a woman having the right to decide,” Pelosi said. “So we’re not negotiating that, no.”
One of the two abortion bills passed by the House would prohibit punishment of a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to get an abortion. It specifies that doctors can’t be punished for providing reproductive care outside their home state.
“Congress has the authority and the responsibility today to protect people from these unconstitutional efforts to prevent or restrict, impede or otherwise to punish people traveling to another state to obtain a legal abortion and to protect the health care providers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Friday.
The second House bill, which first passed in September but stalled in the Senate, would enshrine abortion access as protected under federal law. It would also expand on the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.
“The bill takes Roe v. Wade into the law of the land and protects it from some of the assaults that have occurred since it became overturned by the Supreme Court,” Pelosi said.
By overturning Roe, the court has allowed states to enact strict abortion limits, which is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
Ahead of the House vote, Democrats highlighted the case of a 10-year-old girl who had to cross state lines into Indiana to get an abortion after being raped, calling it an example of how the court’s decision is already having severe consequences.
“We don’t have to imagine why this might matter. We don’t need to conjure up hypotheticals. We already know what’s happened,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Thursday on the Senate floor.
“Should the next little 10-year-old’s right or 12-year-old’s right or 14-year-old’s right to get the care that she desperately needs be put in jeopardy?”
Republicans spoke forcefully against the legislation, praising the Supreme Court’s decision and denouncing the bills as extreme.
GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who supports instituting a nationwide ban on abortion, accused his colleagues across the aisle of seeking to “inflame” the issue of abortion. He said proponents of the travel bill should ask themselves, “Does the child in the womb have the right to travel in their future?”
Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the Democratic legislation “has nothing to do with protecting the health of women. It has everything to do with forcing an extreme agenda on the American people.”
Only two Senate Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have been supportive of abortion rights, but they do not support the Democrats’ proposal, calling it too far-reaching. They have introduced alternative legislation that would bar states from placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion before fetal viability, among other provisions.
At a press briefing ahead of the vote, Pelosi echoed the White House in urging women to make abortion a key issue in the midterm elections.
“I have no question about this administration’s support for a woman’s right to choose and to take the necessary actions to ensure that this is something that is core to who we are,” Pelosi said. “It’s about freedom, it’s about health care, it’s about respect for women. And that is something that the president is wedded to.”
The Hill and the Associated Press contributed to this report.