Baltimore Sun

House votes to restore abortion rights across US

But possibilit­y of measures passing Senate looks dim

- By Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick

WASHINGTON — The House has voted to restore abortion rights nationwide in Democrats’ first legislativ­e response to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturnin­g Roe v. Wade.

The bill has little chance of becoming law, with the necessary support lacking in the 50-50 Senate. Yet voting marks the beginning of a new era in the debate as lawmakers, governors and legislatur­es grapple with the impact of the court’s decision.

The legislatio­n passed 219-210. The House also passed a second bill to prohibit punishment for a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to get an abortion, 223-205.

“Just three weeks ago the Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to the fundamenta­l rights by overturnin­g Roe v. Wade,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of the votes, gathering with other Democratic women on the steps of the Capitol.

“It is outrageous that 50 years later, women must again fight for our most basic rights against an extremist court.”

Republican­s spoke forcefully against the two bills, praising the Supreme Court’s decision and warning that the legislatio­n would go further than Roe ever did when it comes to legalizing abortion.

Urging her colleagues to vote no, Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers called abortion “the greatest human rights issue of our generation.”

She 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.”

By overturnin­g Roe, the court has allowed states to enact strict abortion limits, including many that had previously been deemed unconstitu­tional. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Already, a number of GOP-controlled states have moved quickly to curtail or outlaw abortion, while states controlled by Democrats have sought to champion access. Voters now rank abortion as among the most pressing issues facing the country, a shift in priorities that Democrats hope will reshape the political landscape in their favor for the midterm elections.

This is the second time the House has passed the bill, which would 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. It would prevent abortion bans earlier than 24 weeks, which is when fetal viability, the ability of a human fetus to survive outside the uterus, is generally thought to begin. It allows exceptions for abortions after fetal viability when a provider determines the life or health of the mother is at risk.

The Democrats’ proposal would also prevent states from requiring providers to share “medically inaccurate” informatio­n, or from requiring additional tests or waiting periods, often aimed at dissuading a patient from having an abortion.

The bill that would prohibit punishment for traveling out of state would specify that doctors can’t be punished for providing reproducti­ve care outside their home state. Democratic

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, one of the bill’s authors, said the threats to travel “fail to reflect the fundamenta­l rights that are granted in our Constituti­on.”

Democrats have highlighte­d the case of a 10-yearold 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 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?”

The Constituti­on doesn’t explicitly say travel between states is a right, though the Supreme Court has said it is a right that “has been firmly establishe­d and repeatedly recognized.” Yet the court has never said exactly where the right to travel comes from and that could leave it

open to challenge or eliminatio­n, as the right to an abortion was.

Lawmakers in Missouri earlier this year, for example, considered making it illegal to “aid or abet” abortions that violate Missouri law, even if they occur out of state. The proposal was ultimately shelved.

Democrats have teed up more bills for passage in the coming weeks. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Friday that the House will vote next week on legislatio­n guaranteei­ng a right to contracept­ion.

 ?? ANDREW HARNIK/AP ?? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with female House Democrats, speaks ahead of a House vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act on Friday at the U.S. Capitol.
ANDREW HARNIK/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with female House Democrats, speaks ahead of a House vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act on Friday at the U.S. Capitol.

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