Democrats, Republicans in Congress spar over state abortion laws

Democrats, Republicans in Congress spar over state abortion laws
© Greg Nash

The fight over state abortion bans moved to Congress on Tuesday with Democrats holding a hearing to declare an ongoing “crisis” in states across the country.

“This country has reached a crisis point for women’s constitutional rights to control their own bodies and their own reproductive choices,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) said at a hearing Tuesday.

Nadler and Democrats blasted recently passed abortion bans in states including Alabama and Georgia as an effort to force the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion.

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The hearing is unlikely to result in any congressional action while Republicans control the Senate, but showed how Democrats plan to expand abortion access should they win back the Senate in 2020 and defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE.

Democrats touted measures that would block state governments from passing abortion restrictions and eliminate a ban on federal funding for the procedure.

Early on, Nadler traded barbs with Republicans, calling Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonGOP lawmakers comply with Pelosi's mask mandate for House floor The Hill's Coronavirus Report: iBIO Chairman and CEO Thomas Isett says developing a safe vaccine is paramount; US surpasses 150,000 coronavirus deaths with roughy one death per minute The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Gohmert tests positive; safety fears escalate on Capitol Hill MORE (La.) “arrogant” for wanting to “impose” his moral beliefs on others.

“The power of the state should not be used by one segment of society to impose its moral or religious beliefs on another segment of society,” Nadler said.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler knocks WNBA players for wearing shirts backing Democratic challenger WNBA players wear 'Vote Warnock' shirts in support of Loeffler Democratic challenger Sunday shows preview: White House, Democratic leaders struggle for deal on coronavirus bill MORE (Ga.), the committee’s top Republican, called Nadler a hypocrite in response.

To call Johnson arrogant for "expressing his personal beliefs while at the same time hypocritically stating your own beliefs … is the height of hypocrisy,” Collins said.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee largely stayed away from the debate over whether abortion bans should have exceptions for rape or incest.

GOP leaders and President Trump have tried to distance themselves from these laws passed in states like Alabama and Louisiana, saying they support exceptions.

Instead, Republicans on the committee painted Democrats as extreme on abortion and called the Roe decision flawed.

“One person’s reproductive right cannot outweigh another person’s right to live,” Collins said. “As mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, it’s necessary to consider why Roe is a failure of compassion for both women and children.”

The panel heard from several witnesses, including lawyers, doctors, advocates and two women who said they survived failed abortion attempts.

Actress Busy Philipps testified about her decision to get an abortion at age 15, arguing that women deserve the autonomy to make these decisions without interference from politicians.

Her comments prompted a response from Johnson, who said to the activists in the audience that they “owe it to yourself to do your own homework.”

“The question you should ask yourself is why shouldn’t each of these human beings deserve autonomy in a country that calls itself free?” Johnson said.

Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump order aims to curb US agencies' use of foreign workers after TVA outrage | EPA transition back to the office alarms employees | Hundreds of green groups oppose BLM nominee Interior stresses 'showing up for work' after Grijalva tests positive for coronavirus Trump's junk medicine puts his own supporters at deadly risk MORE (R-Texas.) also questioned Phillips about how babies that survive abortion attempts should be treated.

“While I play a doctor on television, I am actually not a physician,” she said, prompting laughter from those in the hearing room.