Bipartisan senators introduce bill to codify abortion rights
A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law, but it faces an uncertain future.
The bill from Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) comes after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, and left the authority to regulate the procedure to individual states.
“After the Supreme Court gutted a woman’s right to make personal health care decisions, Congress must restore that right,” Kaine said in a statement.
The bill aims to prevent states from enacting laws that impose an “undue burden” on access to pre-viability abortions, while also allowing some “reasonable” limits on post-viability abortions, so long as they don’t impact the life and health of the mother.
The bill does not define viability, or what would constitute a danger to the life and health of a mother.
The bipartisan legislation is an attempt to find a middle ground on abortion rights after a Democratic-only effort, the Women’s Health Protection Act, failed twice on the Senate floor this year.
That legislation would have codified Roe while also expanding abortion access. Every Republican voted against it, as well as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, dozens of states have either completely banned abortion or severely restricted access to the procedure.
The bipartisan legislation also ensures access to contraception. Abortion rights advocates are concerned Republican state legislatures emboldened by the decision overturning Roe could try to outlaw some contraceptives such as Plan B and intrauterine devices.
There is also concern that Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that granted a personal right to contraception, could be overturned.
“For five decades, reproductive health care decisions were centered with the individual — we cannot go back in time in limiting personal freedoms for women,” Murkowski said in a statement.
But it’s not clear if the bipartisan bill will be brought to the Senate floor. It’s likely to get opposition from Democrats for being too conservative, and from Republicans who don’t want to allow any abortion rights.
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