October 4, 2023

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will hold a press conference in the US Capitol in Washington on August 25, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The House of Representatives will vote on reproductive rights law upon its return following the Supreme Court’s refusal to block one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws, which went into effect in Texas this week, spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The Democrat-held chamber plans to enact the Women’s Health Protection Act after lawmakers return to Washington on Sept. 20. The law, led by California Democratic Representative Judy Chu in the House of Representatives, would enshrine the legal right to abortion nationwide and prevent states from unnecessarily restricting procedures medically.

Proponents aim to make the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision federal law as restrictive measures in Texas and other states threaten to undermine the landmark decision that affirms women’s right to abortion.

“Every woman everywhere has the constitutional right to basic health care,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday.

Texas law “is the most extreme and dangerous ban on abortion in half a century, and its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade, and even refuses to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest. This ban requires Roe to be codified v. Wade, “she continued.

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Despite her slim majority in the House of Representatives, Pelosi may have enough votes to pass the bill. It faces great chances of getting through in the Senate, however.

The Democratic Group only holds 50 seats in the Senate, where the measure needs 60 votes to pass. Only two Republican senators – Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Susan Collins from Maine – support the right to abortion.

The Supreme Court refused to block Texas restrictions in a 5-4 ruling late Wednesday. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three Democrat-appointed judges to raise dissenting opinions.

The law prohibits most abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, when many women may not know they are pregnant. Individuals can also file civil lawsuits against abortion providers, which can get them bogged down in costly litigation.

People affected by Texas law could still appeal the measure. It can take months or years for a case to reach the Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden described Thursday’s court decision as “an unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of a woman under Roe v. Wade who has been the law of the country for nearly fifty years.” However, it has limited powers to oppose state laws unless Congress passes laws.

In his statement Thursday, Biden said he would instruct the executive branch to find ways to protect abortion rights in Texas.

Another case before the Supreme Court poses a threat to Roe v. The court is due to hear arguments this year on a Mississippi law that, if it came into effect, would ban most abortions after 15 weeks.

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