A federal bill that would strip the ability of states to restrict or regulate abortion got its hearing in a House subcommittee on Wednesday, with both sides attempting to claim rhetorical ground in an ongoing fight that has widened the divide of the two major political parties over abortion.
The so-called Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019 (HR 2975) would add legislative teeth to Roe v. Wade while invalidating state and local laws restricting abortion. Laws forbidding abortion at certain stages of pregnancy; determining which abortion procedures are used; and any other restrictions deemed “more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures,” would be nullified. Meanwhile, abortions conducted beyond viability—typically viewed as around 24 weeks—would be protected under a broad “life or health” of the mother exemption.
HR 2975 takes direct aim at such restrictions as required waiting periods before abortion; requiring physician admitting privileges at nearby hospitals; ultrasounds and literature on fetal development; laws against dismemberment abortions; and laws banning so-called “webcam abortions” without a doctor on site.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, minced no words about the bill on Twitter.
“The ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’ is a radical, egregiously misnamed bill that would strike down democratically enacted state & federal protections for unborn children & their mothers nationwide, expanding abortion on demand through birth,” she wrote.
Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins was equally adamant. He tweeted: “#HJRes79 would open the door to abortions on demand—no restrictions, no limitations. For my family, protecting life is deeply personal.”
The hearing before the heavily Democratic House Energy & Commerce Committee included testimonies from pro-abortion activists Nancy Northup from the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and Yashica Robinson, medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives. Speaking for the pro-life side were University of St. Thomas law professor Teresa Stanton Collett and Silent No More co-founder Georgette Forney, with Forney speaking of her deep regret over having had an abortion.
Collett told the committee, “It is my opinion that the deceptively named ‘Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019,’ if enacted, would affirmatively harm women, children, and families throughout the country.”
When asked during the hearing about babies who survive abortion attempts, Robinson questioned the truthfulness of a well-documented case—that of abortion survivor Ellie Schneider. Now 2 years old, Ellie was born at 21 weeks and introduced, along with her mother, to millions during President Trump’s televised State of the Union speech on Feb. 4.
The bill is unlikely to pass this year, with a majority Republican Senate and President Trump in office, but next November’s election could change that, with every announced Democratic president candidate strongly supportive of abortion on demand.
Numerous pro-abortion politicians took to social media Wednesday to tout their support for the measure, including Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and emerging presidential contender Michael Bloomberg, whose campaign said, “Mike stands with this bill and supports expanding women’s access to reproductive health services & protecting reproductive freedom.”
Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Stock Photo