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House Votes to Guarantee Woman’s Right to an Abortion

September 24, 2021 by Dan McCue
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined from left by Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., holds a news conference just before a House vote on legislation aimed at guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion, an effort by House Democrats to circumvent a new Texas law that has placed that access under threat, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — With wrangling over a $3.5 trillion spending plan seeming to tie the House in knots in recent days, Democrats pivoted Friday to take on a Texas law that threatens to unravel protections afforded women by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Early Friday afternoon House Democrats called a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is intended to safeguard the right to have an abortion regardless of what state legislatures say on the matter.

It passed in a party line 218-211 vote, suggesting the Republicans will ultimately block the legislation in the Senate.

Nevertheless, in a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Patty Murray, Richard Blumenthal and Richard Durbin vowed that there would be a Senate vote on the legislation “in the very near future.”

“We are currently seeing unprecedented and unconscionable Republican attacks on reproductive rights across the country laced with vicious vigilantism. Congress must assert its role to protect the constitutional right to abortion,” they said in the statement.

Murray is the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor & Pensions, while Blumenthal is the lead Senate sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, and Durbin is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Democrats were moved to act after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law banning most abortions in the state to take effect.

In addition to its provision dealing directly with women seeking abortions and their abortion providers, the new law also effectively deputizes and rewards private citizens who report when abortions or related activities occur in violation of its provisions.

Since the Supreme Court declined to act, the legislature in at least one other state, Florida, has begun considering a similar law to the one passed in Texas.

During a press conference outside the Capitol on Friday, Speaker Pelosi said that by creating a right to abortion in federal law, it would be harder for states to impose tighter restrictions.

She went on to say that the House vote “would send a very positive message to the women of our country — but not just the women, to the women and their families, to everyone who values freedom, honors our Constitution and respects women.” 

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