The House has voted to restore abortion rights nationwide in Democrats' first legislative response to the Supreme Court's landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade. However, the bill has little chance of becoming law, with the necessary support lacking in the 50-50 Senate. Yet voting marks the beginning of a new era in the debate as lawmakers, governors, and legislatures grapple with the impact of the court's decision. The legislation passed 219-210, per the AP. This is the second time the House has passed the bill, which would expand on the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions. The bill would prevent abortion bans earlier than 24 weeks, which is when fetal viability is generally thought to begin.
It also allows exceptions for abortions after fetal viability when a provider determines the life or health of the mother is at risk. The Democrats' proposal would also prevent states from requiring providers to share "medically inaccurate" information, or from requiring additional tests or waiting periods, often aimed at dissuading a patient from having an abortion. The House also approved a separate bill to prohibit punishment for a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to get an abortion, 223-205. That bill also specifies that doctors can't be punished for providing reproductive care outside their home state. Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, one of the bill's authors, said the threats to travel "fail to reflect the fundamental rights that are granted in our Constitution."
The Constitution doesn't explicitly say travel between states is a right, though the Supreme Court has said it is a right that "has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized." Yet the court has never said exactly where the right to travel comes from, and that could leave it open to challenge or elimination, as the right to an abortion was. "Just three weeks ago the Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to the fundamental rights by overturning Roe v. Wade," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of the votes. "It is outrageous that 50 years later, women must again fight for our most basic rights against an extremist court." Republicans spoke forcefully against the bills, praising the Supreme Court's decision and warning that the legislation would go further than Roe ever did when it comes to legalizing abortion.
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