Health Care

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 Nadler (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.

{mosads}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 Trump.

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 Johnson (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 Collins (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 Gohmert (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.

Tags Donald Trump Doug Collins Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Louie Gohmert Mike Johnson

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