White House presses Congress for action in wake of new Oklahoma abortion ban

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefs reporters on President Biden’s phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other matters relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 on Thursday, March 18, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

The White House on Tuesday called on Congress to pass legislation to codify Roe v. Wade in response to the Oklahoma abortion law, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion.

The Women’s Health Protection Act “would shut down these attacks and codify this long-recognized, constitutional right,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Tuesday.

She called the Oklahoma abortion ban the country’s “most restrictive legislation” on reproductive health. Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law on Tuesday, making performing an abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison and allowing an exception only for abortions performed to save the pregnant individual’s life.

“Make no mistake: the actions today in Oklahoma are a part of disturbing national trend attacking women’s rights and the Biden Administration will continue to stand with women in Oklahoma and across the country in the fight to defend their freedom to make their own choices about their futures,” Psaki said.

The White House officially endorsed the Women’s Health Protection Act following the passage of the Texas law that banned most abortions in the state in September. The bill would statutorily protect both a person’s ability to seek an abortion and the ability of health care providers to provide abortion services, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans would likely filibuster it.

Psaki stressed that the new Oklahoma law does not have an exception for rape or incest and that it has a “narrow exception” for medical emergencies.

“This unconstitutional attack on women’s rights is just the latest and one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date,” she said.

The law is part of a slew of legislation in Republican-led states aimed to scale back abortion rights and is likely to face legal challenges, as similar bills in Arkansas and Alabama have been blocked by the courts.

In Congress, Republicans are preparing their messaging strategy in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade when it considers the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Tags abortion access Jen Psaki Jen Psaki Kevin Stitt Oklahoma abortion law Women’s Health Protection Act

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