The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that would bar states from restricting abortions if it is also passed by the Senate and signed into law.

The House voted mostly along party lines to pass H.R. 3755, also known as the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.

All Democrats voted yes except for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who voted no, and one other Democrat who did not vote.

All Republicans voted no except for two members who did not vote.

The bill says abortion services are a constitutional right, as decided by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, but that access to abortion “has been obstructed across the United States in various ways,” including by state laws.

It also says that health care providers can carry out abortions with virtually no limitations or requirements, a provision aimed at pre-empting new state laws and superseding some current ones.

“Today’s vote has been a long time coming. Ever since Roe v. Wade recognized our right to make our own choices about our bodies, anti-choice advocates have been trying to devise new ways to make legal abortion care impossible to access,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the bill’s primary sponsor, told reporters outside the Capitol on Friday before the vote.

According to the bill’s authors, states have introduced over 500 restrictions on abortion since 2011 alone, with 90 passed since the start of this year, including a measure in Texas that bars most abortions after six weeks.

“It’s clear that we need one unified federal response to all of these attacks,” Chu said.

Epoch Times Photo
An exam room is seen at the Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center in Austin, Texas, on June 27, 2016. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/Reuters)

Republicans criticized the bill on the House floor, arguing it went too far.

“With a single move, this legislation would eliminate 40 years of bipartisan consensus in Washington, in state capitals across the country, to protect the health of pregnant women and the unborn. In addition to allowing late-term abortion and proper care in the state of emergencies, medical professionals could also be forced to conduct abortions despite moral objections,” Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) told colleagues.

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) referred to it as an “abortion on demand until birth bill.”

The legislation’s prospects in the 50–50 Senate are uncertain. Forty-eight Democrats are listed as cosponsors for the Senate version, but two—including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who has historically opposed abortion—have not said how they’ll vote.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is generally supportive of abortion access, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week that she would not vote for the House bill because it goes “way beyond” codifying the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

“It would severely weaken the conscious exceptions that are in the current law,” she said, referring to how current law protects health care workers who object to abortion from participating in the procedure.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the other pro-abortion Republican, has not said if she supports the measure.

The bill would need 60 votes in the upper chamber to clear the filibuster.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.

September 24, 2021 5:31 pm

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