Tuesday, March 28, 2023

House Passes Bills to Codify Roe and Protect Interstate Travel for Abortion Care

the house passed two bills on Friday aimed at protecting access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, including ensuring that people can travel across state lines to access care. But both bills are almost certainly doomed to fail in the Senate, thanks to filibuster rules and Republican opposition.

The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation that seeks to codify the protections of the Roe decision, by a vote of 219 to 210. It also passed the Abortion Access Guarantee Act, a bill that seeks protect people who are forced to travel out of state for abortion services, in a vote of 223 to 205.

As Republicans at the state level move quickly to ban and severely restrict abortion, activists have urged federal lawmakers to take action to protect access. And while the bills are likely doomed to filibuster in the Senate, House passage sets the stage for future steps and sets the stage for more intense pressure on Democratic senators and the Biden administration to do something.

“Is this the United States of America? Where can Republicans in these states say to these women, ‘You can’t cross state lines for your own health?’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked during the debate. Friday morning.

“This reality is disgusting. It is despicable and demands action,” she continued.

Pelosi, along with many of her fellow Democrats, wore green to show their support for abortion rights. The symbolic use of color originated in the reproductive rights movement that took place in Argentina almost two decades ago.

The Women’s Health Protection Act, originally introduced in Congress in 2013passed the House last fall, but couldn’t happen in the Senate twice this year after Republican obstruction. The legislation would create federal protections for providing and accessing abortion services, effectively codifying Roe by providing safeguards against state bans and medically unnecessary roadblocks.

“This bill respects our right to make our own decisions about our bodies,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), a sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, said on the House floor. “It is time to put control of our bodies back in our hands. Now is the time to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And Other Democrats Wore Green Friday In Support Of Abortion Rights.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats wore green Friday in support of abortion rights.

Since the conservative majority court overturned Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states have already banned or severely restricted abortion, and more are likely to follow suit in the coming weeks, forcing many people to cross state lines to find abortion services. The fault leaves behind legal gray areas Y a mosaic of abortion care — all of which will disproportionately affect low-income people, women of color, and people who live in rural areas.

“What the hell is happening to our democracy?” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a longtime advocate for reproductive justice and chair of the Pro-Choice caucus, said on the House floor. “I just know this is a slippery slope. They’re coming for me today, they’ll be coming for you tomorrow.”

Along with bans within their own states, Republicans and many major anti-abortion groups have legislation already proposed to restrict patients from crossing state lines for abortion services.

The Guarantee Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, introduced by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), would protect people who travel across state lines to receive reproductive health services, including abortion. It would also allow lawsuits against people who restricted or impeded the ability to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion in a state where it is legal.

Senate Democrats introduced a similar bill to Fletcher’s earlier this week, but Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) prevented him from advancing Thursday. Even though some Republicans are already proposing ways to prevent interstate abortions, Lankford insisted such a bill is unnecessary.

“No state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking abortions. This seems to be trying to inflame, to pose what ifs,” Lankford, who supports a national abortion ban, said on the Senate floor.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh clarified as part of the recent case that struck down Roe that the right to travel between states is constitutionally protected, even if the travel is for abortion care.

“As I see it, some of the other abortion-related legal issues raised by today’s decision are not particularly difficult as a constitutional issue,” he wrote. “For example, can a state prohibit a resident of that state from traveling to another state for an abortion? In my opinion, the answer is no, based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”

Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson applauded the work of House Democrats in a statement Friday afternoon.

“Despite attempts by Republican lawmakers to block these bills, we are grateful that our sexual and reproductive health advocates in the House once again took action for abortion rights,” he said.

“It is inconceivable, but frankly not surprising, that anti-abortion rights lawmakers continue to defy the will of their constituents and oppose legislation that would help safeguard their access to essential health care,” continued McGill Johnson. “Each person, not politicians, should have the power to decide if and when to start or expand their family. The members of Congress who voted against these bills are on the wrong side of the American people and of history. This November, voters will remember.”

Nation World News Desk
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