Thursday, October 21, 2021

WATCH: House votes to protect abortion rights amid state challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House passed legislation Friday that would guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion, an attempt by Democrats to circumvent a new Texas law that has threatened that access.

See Pelosi’s comment in the player above.

218-211’s approval of the bill is mostly symbolic, as Republican opposition would ruin it in the Senate.

Still, Democrats say they are doing everything possible to codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, when the Supreme Court recently allowed Texas law to ban most abortions in the state. was given. The court will hear arguments in December in a separate bid from Mississippi to overturn the historic decision.

Despite long odds in his chamber, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., said in a statement after the vote that “Congress must emphasize its role to protect the constitutional right to abortion” and the Senate held a vote. Will do in the very near future.”

Codifying Roe’s decision would mean making abortion rights into federal law, a major change that would make it harder for courts and states to impose restrictions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said congressional action will make a “tremendous difference” in Democrats’ efforts to maintain access to abortion rights. She called the Supreme Court’s decision “shameful” and against her own precedent.

Pelosi said just before Friday’s vote that she “must send a very positive message to the women of our country – not just to women, to women and their families, to everyone who values ​​freedom, our Constitution.” respects and respects women.”

No Republicans voted for legislation that would replace state laws on the subject, giving health care providers the right to perform abortions and giving patients the right to obtain them. Republicans argue that this would prevent states from establishing requirements such as parental involvement and could undermine laws that allow doctors to refuse abortions.

The law is “not about freedom for women, it’s about death for children,” said Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri. She said it would eliminate protections for women and girls who could be forced to have abortions.

“It ends the life of a living human with a plan and a purpose from God and who is worthy of living,” Hertzler said.

Only one member crossed party lines—Democratic Representative Henry Kueller of Texas, who voted against the bill.

The vote came as Democrats spoke boldly about fighting the Supreme Court – which has a more conservative leaning after Justice Amy Connie Barrett’s confirmation last year – but struggled privately to find an effective strategy. They control Congress by the narrowest margin, including an equally divided 50-50 Senate, making the chances of a successful legislative response difficult.

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The party is divided, in some respects, on how far Washington must go to preserve access to abortion. Liberal lawmakers, backed by reproductive rights advocates who helped bring President Joe Biden to power, want to expand the number of Supreme Court justices in order to rebalance power, lowering the 60-vote limit if necessary. To change the rules is usually required to advance in the Senate. Legislation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y tweeted, “Democrats can either eliminate the filibuster and expand the court, or do nothing at all because the bodies, rights and lives of millions are far-fetched. Sacrifices are made for minority rule.” “It shouldn’t be a difficult decision.”

But other Democrats – Biden among them – have been wary of such a move.

Biden supports the House bill and calls the Texas court’s decision an “unprecedented attack on a woman’s constitutional rights.” He has directed several agencies to make comprehensive efforts of the government to ensure abortion facilities to women and protect health care providers. But he did not support the idea of ​​adding judges to the Supreme Court, but set up a commission to study the idea.

The court’s decision on abortion could also cause political tensions among Republicans.

Former President Donald Trump was able to secure three new conservative Supreme Court justices as the Republican leadership in Congress led by GOP leader Mitch McConnell paved the way. Now, as the court upholds the strict new Texas prohibiting most abortions in the state, the political fallout will test the limits of that strategy.

Women and advocates of abortion rights are increasingly mobilizing not only to take on those Republicans, but also to support the big businesses that have contributed to the many Texas Republicans behind abortion legislation.

“She will get a strong response from women and people across the country,” Sonja Spu, director of the Reproductive Rights Campaigns at UltraViolet, an advocacy organization, said in an interview.

Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who advocates abortion rights, says the Texas law is “harmful and extreme” and supports Roe’s codification.

But she says the House bill “goes beyond” and could threaten the rights of doctors who refuse to perform abortions on religious or moral grounds, for example.

“I support Roe’s codification, and I’m working with some of my colleagues in the Senate on legislation that will do that,” Collins said in a statement.

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