House Democrats tee up votes on abortion rights bills

Associated Press/Gemunu Amarasinghe
FILE – Abortion-rights protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. A new poll finds a growing percentage of Americans calling out abortion or women’s rights as priorities for the government in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, especially among Democrats and those who support abortion access.

House Democrats are planning to vote next week on a pair of bills aimed at protecting access to abortion as lawmakers try to chart a path forward in the post-Roe world.

As lawmakers return to the Capitol for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the House plans to vote on legislation that will protect women who need to travel to seek an abortion if they live in a state that now bans it. 

Some Republican governors and anti-abortion groups are already eyeing laws that would criminalize women who try to seek abortions out of state. 

A second bill is an updated version of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights into law and expand on Roe’s protections. That bill passed the House last fall after every Democrat except one voted in favor. 

Both bills face long, if not impossible odds in the Senate since they don’t have enough support to overcome the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold. The Senate twice failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act after bringing it to a vote in both February and May of this year. 

Still, Democratic leaders said voting on the bills shows the urgency of the issue and the need for Congress to act.

“We have a sacred, fundamental duty to expand freedom in America, not to roll back fundamental rights. While Republicans seek to criminalize reproductive health care nationwide, House Democrats will never relent in our fight to defend freedom for women and for every American,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

As pressure builds on the White House to take bold action to protect abortion rights, President Biden has been insistent that Congress holds the ultimate authority. 

Biden on Friday signed an executive order instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to protect access to emergency medical care, enforce ObamaCare’s birth control mandate and expand access to abortion medication. 

But the president acknowledged executive power alone won’t be enough to restore abortion rights in states that are rapidly moving to ban access and exhorted Democrats to vote in November.

“We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality,” Biden said.

In announcing the votes, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also indicated it was up to Congress to protect abortion rights.”

“In truth, there is very little that the President can do on his own to address the dangers posed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson.  It is up to Congress to take meaningful action by enacting laws that guarantee reproductive freedom in all states and territories of our union,” Hoyer said in a statement.

Tags abortion Abortion abortion rights Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade

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