Posted by on May 11, 2022 1:55 pm
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Here’s how the Democratic abortion bill would go far beyond Roe

Abortion rights activist protests outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana/AP

Here’s how the Democratic abortion bill would go far beyond Roe

Cassidy Morrison May 11, 01:36 PMMay 11, 01:37 PM

Democrats in the Senate will force a vote to advance debate Wednesday on legislation meant to forestall a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The Democratic bill, though, the Women’s Health Protection Act, would go beyond just codifying the right to an abortion as established by Roe.

Solidify the right to abortion beyond viability

The Women’s Health Protection Act would create a statutory right to the procedure up until the point of viability, considered to be at the 24-week mark, and beyond that point, if the provider, using “good-faith medical judgment,” determines that the procedure is necessary “for the preservation of the life or health of the person who is pregnant.” Anti-abortion rights advocates, therefore, have dubbed the bill the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act.

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“The deeply unpopular Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act would wipe away nearly all common ground pro-life protections in the states, including limits on painful late-term abortion which the people strongly support, and it is doomed to fail,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

The push to allow abortion beyond the point of viability has alienated centrist Republicans who have otherwise supported abortion rights. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bill in response to the WHPA in February, which would maintain some limits. Their Reproductive Choice Act would maintain the states’ rights to restrict the ability to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman. It would reinforce the ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which banned states from issuing restrictions that place an “undue burden” on the woman seeking an abortion. Collins and Murkowski also included a provision that would protect the rights of healthcare providers to refuse to perform abortions on the basis of religious or moral objections.

Eliminates limitations on abortion providers

The Women’s Health Protection Act would throw out requirements and limitations for abortion providers. The state-issued requirements that the bill eliminates include mandatory tests or procedures a patient must undergo before having an abortion, as well as waiting periods between the consultation and the actual procedure. All healthcare providers would also be barred from asking the patient to disclose her reasons for seeing an abortion.

The WHPA also addresses the battle between the parties over access to medication abortion, which consists of two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration that can be taken 24 to 48 hours apart in the patient’s home. It would eliminate prescribing restrictions on certified healthcare providers as well as all restrictions on prescriptions through telehealth services. The FDA had permanently lifted the in-person prescribing requirement during the pandemic, though many states kept it in place.

Overturns state restrictions on abortion

The bill, if it were to pass, would supersede all state-level policies and restrictions on abortion, such as required hospital admitting privileges, multiple visit requirements, and protections for the unborn from abortion based on their sex, race, or diagnosis of a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. It would also cancel out all future laws that are deemed too restrictive by the courts.

Excludes conscience protections for religious providers

The bill would threaten long-established protections for healthcare providers who oppose performing the procedure on moral or religious grounds. In addition to superseding all state policies regarding abortion, the bill would be exempt from a defense raised under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a law that created legal safeguards for religious people and entities with respect to federal rules.

“Along with RFRA, other superseded laws would include any federal and state conscience protection laws that broadly protect individuals, healthcare entities, and providers because of religious or conscience objections to participate in abortion,” said Rachel Morrison, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank.

The absence of protections for religious providers was a sticking point for Collins and Murkowski, who included those protections in their Reproductive Choice Act.

“It doesn’t protect the right of a Catholic hospital to not perform abortions. That right has been enshrined in law for a long time,” Collins told CNN last week.

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Collins and Murkowski voted against the WHPA in February, citing concerns about the missing so-called conscience clause. Murkowski said at the time that “this partisan Women’s Health Protection Act simply goes too far. It would broadly supersede state laws and infringe on Americans’ religious freedoms.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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