As a leaked draft opinion of a Supreme Court ruling shows that a conservative majority of justices appear poised to overturn federal abortion rights protections, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the Senate will hold a procedural vote to begin debate on the Women’s Health Protection Act. the week.
WHPA is a bill that seeks to codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that grants protections for a woman’s right to abortion, at the federal level. The bill prohibits government restrictions on access to abortion services, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Tuesday that the leaked draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade was genuine. He has since ordered an investigation into the public dissemination of the project.
After narrowly passing the House last September, the WHPA was stalled in the Senate. Schumer had failed to rally the entire Democratic caucus when he tried to start a debate on the bill in February.
At a press conference Thursday, Schumer expressed skepticism about whether the bill will receive the Republican votes it needs to pass. To overcome a filibuster, the bill needs the support of 60 members of Congress.
While a final vote in the Senate requires a simple majority of 51 votes, the filibuster procedural rule requires a supermajority, or 60 votes, to start or end debate on the legislation so it can deal with it. to a final vote. Even if a party has a simple majority in the Senate, it still needs a super majority to bring a bill to a final vote.
“Republicans will have two choices. They can own the destruction of women’s rights, or they can turn the tide and work to prevent the damage. Consider me skeptical that they will do the latter. Republicans have been bad side of history and the wrong side of America,” he said.
What’s in the WHPA bill?
The bill would prevent state governments from limiting a health care provider’s ability to prescribe certain medications, offer telemedicine abortion services, or immediately provide abortion services when the provider determines that a delay puts the patient’s health at risk, according to CRS.
It also prevents states from requiring patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits before receiving abortion services or from requiring women to disclose the reasons for obtaining abortions and related services. The WHPA would prohibit states from barring abortion services before or after fetal viability when a provider determines that the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the patient.
The WHPA also prohibits other government measures that single out and restrict access to abortion services, unless a state government can prove that the measure significantly improves the safety of abortion services or the health of patients and cannot be achieved by less restrictive means, according to CRS.
It also allows the Department of Justice, individuals, or abortion providers to sue violations of the bill, whether restrictions were put in place before or after the bill took effect. .
The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, last June, was a response to increased attacks on abortion rights over the past decade, according to an advocate for the abortion rights who spoke to ABC News.
“The WHPA is a response to the past decade, where anti-abortion lawmakers and states have passed more than 500 restrictions and bans on abortion care,” said Leila Abolfazli, director of federal reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. , to ABC News.
Anti-abortion activists view the WHPA as far too radical. An anti-abortion advocate said the bill would remove nearly all state laws governing abortions.
“What it mainly does is create a right to abortion, every nine months of pregnancy [and] it would invalidate just about every state law that has been passed,” said Jennifer Popik, a lawyer and director of federal legislation at the anti-abortion group National Right to Life.
She also called it “pretty much the most permissive abortion bill ever passed in Congress.” Popik said the bill is as comprehensive as an abortion rights bill.
“Anything that treats abortion differently than any other medical procedure would be hit with it,” she said.
Abolfazli, of the National Women’s Law Center, said instead that the WHPA “comprehensively addresses the web of restrictions and prohibitions that have been put in place to prevent people from having abortions” as well as attempts to “shame and of stigmatization” of anyone having an abortion. .
Republicans except the senses. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who publicly support abortion access, have sought to roll back Roe v. Wade for decades. But Collins said she opposes the WHPA.
“My goal is to codify what is essentially an existing law. It means Roe v. Wade, it means Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which established the excessive demand test. by the Democrats, so I’m not trying to go beyond the current law or, but rather to codify these Supreme Court rulings,” Collins told ABC News’ Trish Turner on Thursday.
Murkowski and Collins have drafted their own legislative proposals to codify Roe which have yet to be voted on.
What are the chances of the WHPA becoming law?
Popik of National Right to Life said the bill is unlikely to become law given how it passed the House along party lines.
“Not only would they be hard pressed to get 50 votes on this, but they would need to get 60 votes on this…I would be hard pressed to see the current Congress getting 60 votes on anything,” said Popik, citing obstruction.
“Senate Democrats control the calendar, but they don’t have 60 senators who would vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act, or any effort to protect abortion, because, in fact, I think that 47 senators are on the record asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, so it’s just that the numbers aren’t there,” said Abolfazli, of the National Women’s Law Center.
Abolfazli added: “We never had the numbers to pass something like this.”