Group declares war against 'radical' Dem abortion rights bill

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) is declaring war against a Democratic bill to lift abortion restrictions around the country.

The organization slammed the legislation as the "most radical pro-abortion bill ever considered by Congress" one day prior to its consideration by a Senate committee.

NRLC President Carol Tobias tied the measure to the midterm elections, saying that many voters would be "appalled" to learn about the bill's strong support among Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Two-thirds of Senate Democrats have already cosponsored a bill to impose nationwide the extreme ideological doctrine that elective abortion must not be limited in any meaningful way, at any stage of pregnancy," Tobias said in statement Monday.

The comments were unusual for the NRLC, a federation of state anti-abortion groups that wields considerable power but often takes a quiet approach.

Tobias is due to testify Tuesday at the hearing for the bill, which would sweep away abortion restrictions at the state and federal level that Democrats call medically unnecessary.

To do that, the Women's Health Protection Act from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) lays out more than a dozen broad categories of abortion regulation that would become invalid upon its enactment.

Rules like waiting periods, pre-abortion ultrasounds, targeted clinic regulations and admitting privileges requirements for abortion providers would lose effect.

The measure would also ban restrictions on abortion prior to fetal viability and order courts to construe its language liberally to protect abortion rights.

Blumenthal said the measure strikes at the heart of state laws and is "abhorrent and antithetical to well-established rights."

"A new federal law is necessary to stop anti-choice legislators from using women's health and safety as a ploy to enact unconscionable and unconstitutional state statutes that obstruct and block women from essential healthcare," he said last November.

Tobias, meanwhile, said the bill would nullify restrictions that are popular with the public.

It is unclear whether Senate leaders plan to move the legislation any further than Tuesday's hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

Abortion can be a tricky political issue for both parties, and Senate Democrats are focused on protecting their incumbents from tough votes before November.

The legislation currently has 35 co-sponsors, including Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who are up for reelection.

It would not touch laws governing insurance coverage of abortion, ordering parental consent or notification or regulating physical access to clinic entrances.