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Pelosi: House Will Vote to Codify Roe v. Wade in Response to Texas Heartbeat Law

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes part in an enrollment ceremony for the ‘VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Thursday that the House will vote to “enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America” following the Supreme Court’s refusal to block a Texas law that prohibits abortion after a heartbeat can be detected.

Pelosi’s comments come after the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision just before midnight on Wednesday evening rejecting a challenge to a Texas law that prohibits the abortion of an unborn baby once a heartbeat can be detected. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s three liberal justices in dissent. 

“This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi said, referring to the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

“SB8 unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented and far-reaching assaults on health care providers – and on anyone who helps a woman, in any way, access an abortion – by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect on the provision of any reproductive health care services. This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman’s right to health care but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target,” Pelosi said.

“Upon our return, the House will bring up Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America,” the speaker added.   

However, the measure would face an uphill battle in the evenly divided Senate where Republicans would likely filibuster the bill. The Senate companion bill to Chu’s measure does not even have the support of all 50 Senate Democrats: Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania have not signed on as co-sponsors.

Meanwhile, Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.) called for eliminating the Senate filibuster to allow legislation to codify Roe v. Wade to pass with a simple majority.

“We have seen what the Republicans will do in ultra-conservative state legislatures across the country to quash the constitutional rights of Americans, and this ruling needs to be an urgent call to action for my Senate Democratic colleagues,” Markey said. 

President Biden also issued a statement Thursday blasting the Supreme Court’s decision and pledging to use the authority of the federal government where possible to “ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

Biden said the high court’s ruling would cause “unconstitutional chaos” by codifying a measure that allows private citizens to enforce a ban on abortion, as the law allows any individual to sue medical providers who perform an abortion. The law says plaintiffs in litigation cases resulting from the law’s implementation can earn up to $10,000 in damages.

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