Democrats Hope To Counteract Texas Abortion Ban With Proposed Law That Would Codify Abortion Rights

But without a 60 vote majority in the Senate, it's unlikely the bill will become law

Democrats Hope To Counteract Texas Abortion Ban With Proposed Law That Would Codify Abortion Rights
Photo:J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

After the Supreme Court declined to intervene and allowed the terrifyingly restrictive Texas anti-abortion bill to become law on Wednesday, Democrats are hoping that they can use a piece of proposed legislation to protect abortion rights at the federal level.

On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would be voting on the bill in question, the Women’s Health Protection Act, when they return from their recess later in September. (Side note: what a totally appropriate and not completely negligent time for Congress to be doing literally nothing at all!) The Women’s Health Protection Act would codify into law both a pregnant person’s right to access abortion and the right of medical providers to perform abortions by establishing a single statutory right to perform or receive the procedure.

In a statement released on Thursday, Pelosi wrote:

“Upon our return, the House will bring up Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America. The Supreme Court’s cowardly, dark-of-night decision to uphold a flagrantly unconstitutional assault on women’s rights and health is staggering.”

However, even if Democrats are able to get the legislation through the House, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to gather the pesky 60 vote Senate majority that would be necessary in order to overcome a filibuster—even if they do gain the support of the few Republican Senators who have records of supporting abortion rights. This would be a great time for Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to explain why exactly they’re the last Democratic holdouts who oppose eliminating the filibuster, despite the steadily-growing number of Democratic bills that have died in the Senate as a result of the rule just this year!

In a Thursday tweet condemning the Supreme Court for allowing the Texas anti-abortion law to stand, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called for eliminating the filibuster specifically in order to preserve abortion rights. “We must pass federal laws to protect the right to safe, legal abortion,” Gillibrand wrote. “We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to put an end to these cruel state bans on our rights. And we can’t let the filibuster stand in our way.”

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