House Democrats have a slim majority, and they’re finding it increasingly difficult to round up enough votes within their own caucus to pass legislation these days. They remain divided at the moment over exactly how many trillions of dollars in additional debt the federal government should rack up in 2021, and this week, a group of about ten progressive Democrats forced House speaker Nancy Pelosi to strip $1 billion for Israel’s defensive anti-missile Iron Dome program from a government-funding bill.
If all members had voted, it would have taken only four Democratic dissenters to kill this radical abortion bill, but just one voted against it.
H.R. 3755, the deceitfully named Women’s Health Protection Act, would invalidate nearly all state laws limiting and regulating abortion, including many health and safety regulations designed to protect the lives of women.
The legislation is nothing short of an act of barbarism: It would create an absolute right to abort a child before “fetal viability” — that is, according to the Act, when a baby born would likely survive outside the womb — and it would prohibit states from protecting life after viability until birth if a lone “health care provider” determines the “continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk” to the mother’s life or “health.” The bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate has acknowledged the legislation “doesn’t distinguish” between physical and mental health, and the text of the bill explicitly instructs the courts to “liberally” interpret the legislation. There can be no doubt that courts would broadly interpret “health” as Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe, defined health: “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age. . . . All these factors may relate to health.”
Congressional Democrats have for decades introduced bills that would “codify Roe” — the legislation was long-known as the Freedom of Choice Act, but it was renamed and revised as the Women’s Health Protection Act in 2013. Before Friday, however, the legislation had never been put up for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House or Senate. “We haven’t been able to codify [Roe] because we never had a Democratic pro-choice majority with a Democratic president,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Thursday. Pelosi’s claim was transparently false: When Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took office, they each had Congresses controlled by Democrats who generally supported legalized abortion. Pelosi claimed otherwise to cover up the real reason that the bill never came to the floor for a vote: It was seen as politically poisonous and too extreme for many “pro-choice” Democrats.
The good news is that so long as the Senate filibuster requiring 60 votes for legislation remains intact, the Democrats’ radical abortion bill will not become law. The 2022 elections are just a year away, but right now the bill may not even have 50 votes in the Senate. Susan Collins, one of two Senate Republicans who supports an expansive right to abortion, told the LA Times this week that parts of the bill are too “extreme” for her.
In particular, Collins noted the bill would “severely weaken” conscience rights by denying protections afforded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Another extreme provision of the bill that goes beyond the radicalism of Roe is its provision requiring states to allow non-physicians to perform abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The bill enshrines a right of a “health care provider” — a term that includes but is not limited to a “certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant” — to perform abortions.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the other Republican senator who supports a right to abortion, has not taken a position on the bill. Neither has Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, one of two self-described pro-life Democrats in the Senate, who told the LA Times he has “just begun to look at it.” But Casey voted in 2020 for a bill banning most abortions after unborn children are capable of feeling pain. That pro-life protection would run afoul of the Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill would also invalidate Pennsylvania’s statutory 24-week limit on abortion, which only includes an exception for a serious physical-health issue. In 2013, the notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted for killing 21 infants in utero later than 24 weeks (in addition to his convictions for murdering three infants with scissors after they had been born) under the Act. What more does Casey need to see before making up his mind?
The United States is one of only seven nations on earth that allows elective abortions later than 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court placed all 50 states inside this shameful club alongside North Korea, Vietnam, and Communist China. Congressional Democrats want to ensure all 50 states stay there if the Court finally corrects this grave injustice against human rights and constitutional law.
Americans who want a more decent and humane society should not contemplate codifying Roe; they should be working to overturn it and protect human lives from the lethal violence of abortion.