On Monday, just 20 days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Texas Heartbeat Act, the House will take up an abortion expansion bill, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her way.
Pelosi, a Democrat from California, promised supporters after the Texas bill became law on Sept. 1 that she would fight the bill with legislation. H.R. 3755, the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), is her way of keeping that promise.
The WHPA, which some pro-lifers refer to as the Abortion-on-Demand bill, would maintain the legality of pre-viability abortions in the event that Roe v. Wade and related cases were overturned by the Supreme Court. It would also go beyond existing court precedents by barring various pro-life policies such as pre-abortion waiting periods, ultrasound laws, informed consent laws, and restrictions on pill abortions and telemedicine abortions.
The WHPA, sponsored this year by Rep. Judy Chu (D-California), has been introduced in each congressional session beginning in 2013, but has not received a vote. While it would appear to have no chance of passing the U.S. Senate under current rules requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called on the Senate to eliminate the filibuster in hopes that doing so would facilitate the passage of the bill.
The Texas law requires doctors and clinics to check for a fetal heartbeat and—if one is found—prohibits an abortion from taking place. Typically, a heartbeat is detectable by six weeks of pregnancy.
By barring abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Texas law effectively bans abortion following the sixth week of pregnancy; at that stage of a pregnancy, pregnant moms may not yet know that they are pregnant.
The Texas heartbeat law has provoked a fierce backlash from the abortion industry and its allies. President Joe Biden—who says he personally opposes abortion while vigorously working to keep it legal and available—has called the heartbeat law “almost un-American.” The Biden administration has sued the state of Texas in an effort to have the law thrown out.
Beginning on Sept. 1, Planned Parenthood’s Texas affiliates reported turning away abortion patients in compliance with the new law. While pro-lifers acknowledge that some abortion-minded Texans may seek abortions in other states, some pregnant women may reconsider their decisions and choose life due to the new law. According to The New York Times, one pro-life pregnancy center director in Texas said that the phones had been “ringing off the hook” at her office. While the heartbeat law could still be thrown out in court, untold numbers of unborn babies’ lives will be saved as long as the bill remains in effect. This is cause for great thanksgiving, she said.
Opponents have found the Texas law difficult to challenge because it allows private citizens—and not state officials—to enforce it. The law permits citizens to sue anyone who “performs or induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The law allows civil damages of at least $10,000 for each suit.
Pro-life group Live Action rejects arguments against the Texas Heartbeat Act, particularly Pelosi’s claim that it is immoral.
“There is nothing morally sound about killing a woman’s preborn child and calling it a right or a freedom,” the group said.
“The very act of abortion is immoral, dangerous, and unethical,” Live Action said. “… Abortion is a horrific and immoral act that harms vulnerable women and allows abusive men to further hurt and control their victims. Abortion makes women look at their own children as oppressors who hold them back. Abortion says that the ability to carry a child and give birth makes women less than men. Abortion is the catastrophe.”
Photo: Lenin Nolly/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/Newscom