Pro-Life Leaders React: House Passes First Abortion Bills After Roe

Friday’s moves marked the first time Congress has voted on major abortion legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Neither pro-abortion measure is likely to gain final passage into law.

Friday was the third time the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act and the second time it did so in this legislative session.
Friday was the third time the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act and the second time it did so in this legislative session. (photo: Unsplash)

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a sweeping abortion bill that would undo state restrictions on the procedure nationwide.

The Democrat-led House also voted to approve legislation that would bar states where abortion is banned from making it a crime for women to obtain abortions in other states.

The votes were largely symbolic, taken with an eye toward pivotal midterm elections in November. With Democrats in the Senate currently 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, neither pro-abortion measure approved Friday is likely to gain final passage into law.

“We must ensure that the American people remember in November, because with two more Democratic senators, we will be able to eliminate the filibuster when it comes to a woman’s right to choose and to make reproductive freedom the law of the land,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Friday’s moves marked the first time Congress has voted on major abortion legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision on June 24.

Roe established abortion as a constitutionally protected right and effectively barred states from banning or severely restricting abortion for nearly 50 years.

The court’s 5-4 decision last month in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dismantled that federalized legal abortion framework, freeing states to regulate abortion as they see fit. 

A Third Try to Codify Roe

Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden and Pelosi, both Catholics, have vowed to negate the Dobbs decision’s impact by “codifying” or enshrining Roe’s provisions into federal law through passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

But opponents of the bill say it goes even further than Roe in outlawing state parental-notification laws and other regulations that Roe allowed.

Friday was the third time the House passed the act and the second time it did so in this legislative session. The measure failed in the Senate in May. The House's latest 219-210 vote again fell mostly along party lines. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, a Catholic, was the only Democrat who voted against it.

Ahead of Friday’s vote, the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America released new national polling it says shows that 70% of voters oppose abortion without restrictions, including majorities of both pro-choice and pro-life voters. Sixty-three percent of voters disapprove of legislation that would overturn nearly all state-level prohibitions on abortion, even limits on late-term abortion, the group said.

A new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll released Thursday shows that a large majority of Catholic voters (82%) support some kind of restriction on abortion. Also, a majority of Catholic voters say they are less likely to back a political candidate who supports abortion at any time during pregnancy.

“Pro-abortion Democrats are dramatically out of touch with a majority of Americans who reject abortion extremism,” SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Friday.

“Already in this new Dobbs era, more than a dozen states have implemented lifesaving protections for unborn children and their mothers. Yet Democrats and the abortion industry are spreading fear and lies about the Dobbs decision to push their unpopular, unsafe agenda — including the deceptively named Women’s Health Protection Act.”

Chelsey Youman, national legislative adviser for the pro-life Human Coalition Action, said the act would make aborting a child legal up until death for any reason.

“As states finally have the ability to protect all preborn lives, a narrow House majority now wants to impose abortion on demand on the entire country,” Youman said in a statement.

“It would force Americans to pay for abortions with their tax dollars,” she cautioned. “It would violate the conscience rights of some health-care professionals by forcing them to perform abortions against their deepest-held beliefs.”

The legislation, she said, would make the U.S. stand out in its support of abortion.

“Furthermore, it would place the United States among the countries in the world with the most liberal abortion laws. Only seven countries allow elective abortions after 20 weeks — and this list includes the notorious human-rights violators North Korea and China.”

A Challenge to the Dobbs Decision

The House also advanced the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act on Friday in a 222-205 vote that fell largely along party lines. Three Republicans joined Democrats: Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

The legislation would not only protect women seeking to travel out of state to obtain an abortion but also would safeguard the interstate commerce or transportation of FDA-approved abortion drugs.

“These bills would endanger lives by expanding the reach of chemical abortion and allowing telemedicine mailing across state lines without physical examination, which could be life-threatening, especially in cases of ectopic pregnancies,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement. “Disturbingly, if enacted the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act could also lead to shielding child abusers who transport women or girls across state lines for abortions from criminal liability.”

Congress should provide a pro-life alternative to women and the unborn, she said.

“In this post-Roe America, it is important now more than ever to ensure women and their children experience the physical and emotional support they need to thrive,” she added. “We urge Congress to prioritize life-affirming legislation rather than harmful bills that prop up the pro-abortion lobby.” 

Mancini stressed that these bills threatened the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs: “These bills are designed to undermine and eliminate the states’ rights to protect women and their unborn children through laws passed by their elected representatives, a right restored by the Supreme Court in the landmark Dobbs decision.”