Analysis

Congress introduces bill to allow abortion up to birth, eliminating all pro-life laws

Hyde, abortion

The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) of 2021, hailed by abortion supporters as the bill that will ensure equal access to abortion for all, is being re-introduced in Congress today. Currently, “health of the mother” loopholes — including financial health, familial health, age, or other reasons — allow abortion up to birth in the United States (see Doe v. Bolton), but the WHPA goes further than current law, virtually banning states even from restricting abortion after “viability,” when it is considered possible for a preborn child to survive outside the womb. The bill could also wipe out conscience protections, parental notification laws, and informed consent laws. The Act states that:

A health care provider has a statutory right to provide abortion services, and may provide abortion services, and that provider’s patient has a corresponding right to receive such services, without a limitation or requirement that… impedes access to abortion services.

“This week’s news out of the Supreme Court was an urgent call to action: reproductive rights are under direct, imminent attack,” said the bill’s sponsors two days after SCOTUS announced it would take up the case involving Mississippi’s ban on abortion at four months (15 weeks) — a case that has the potential to challenge Roe v. Wade. “Our bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, would protect against unconstitutional laws like Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban — laws that attack people’s freedom to make decisions about their own bodies and which directly contradict decades of Supreme Court precedent. […] We look forward to formally reintroducing our legislation with the support of our colleagues…”

Sponsors in the 117th Congress include Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

The bill calls abortion “essential” to women’s health and “central” to women’s ability to “participate equally” in the economic and social life of the nation — an anti-feminist, anti-woman idea that at its core labels women as unequal to men without the “right” to kill their preborn children.

Abortion on demand

According to an analysis of the identical wording in the 2019 version of the Act by the Charlotte Lozier Institute:

Section 4(a)(8) creates a statutory right to perform or receive an abortion without any limit from “[a] prohibition on abortion prior to fetal viability.” Fetal viability occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases.[28] Therefore Section 4(a)(8) would block 20-week laws in most cases.

Any application of 20-week laws surviving Section 4(a)(8) on grounds that a baby was viable would face significant jeopardy under Section 4(a)(9) as well as Section 4(b)(2) operating in conjunction with Section 4(c)(1).

Since 2010, twenty-one States have enacted laws limiting abortion at 20 weeks (almost five months) of pregnancy.[29] Despite this wave of pro-life legislation, outside the Ninth Circuit, abortion proponents have challenged only two of those 21 laws, including a state law case in Georgia that failed.[30] This lack of litigation shows a real concern on the part of abortion activists that they will lose in court when it comes to limits on late abortion.

With a single blow, [the Act] would accomplish a crushing pro-abortion victory that abortion activists have been largely unwilling to attempt in the courts.

And according to National Right to Life legal counsel Jennifer Popik, the Act “would invalidate nearly all existing state limitations on abortion” and “would also prohibit states from adopting new protective laws in the future, including various types of laws specifically upheld as constitutionally permissible by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

A 2021 Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll found that 76% of Americans, including many who consider themselves “pro-choice,” want restrictions on abortion. Only 15% of all Americans and 27% of those who are “pro-choice” said they support abortion for any reason up until birth.

In addition, a national poll from the Susan B. Anthony List released on June 7, 2021, found that the majority of voters oppose abortion on demand and support limits on abortion after the four month (15-week) mark. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 561 abortion restriction bills, including bans, have been introduced across 47 states and 83 of them have been enacted, proving that Americans want abortion restrictions. WHPA seeks to wipe those pro-life laws out completely.

WHPA seeks to protect the so-called “right” to abortion by ending restrictions its sponsors see as unnecessary, including mandatory waiting periods (which save lives), abortion counseling considered by abortion advocates to be biased, mandatory ultrasounds (which are necessary to date the pregnancy and inform an abortionist which procedure he must use to kill the baby). Destroying these laws will do nothing to protect women and will only increase revenue for abortion facilities.

Abortion treated like any other medical procedure

The bill affirms that abortion proponents see abortion as any other medical procedure, and according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), WHPA compares abortion — the direct and intentional killing of a human being — to a colonoscopy. However, numerous court cases have confirmed otherwise. As pointed out by CLI, In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion was defined as a “unique act.” In the 1976 Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, abortion was called a “grave decision” which, according to the 1979 ruling in Bellotti v. Baird, “has implications far broader than those associated with most other kinds of medical treatment.” In addition, the 2007 case of Gonzales v. Carhart stated, “Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision.” The same cannot be said of a colonoscopy.

No conscience protections

Because WHPA states that there is a statutory right to commit and undergo an abortion without any limitations, it puts the jobs of those who refuse to commit abortions in jeopardy. According to CLI, this could lead to both job losses and the defunding of religious hospitals that may be told they must commit abortions or lose funding.

“WHPA guarantees a pregnant person’s right to access an abortion — and the right of an abortion provider to deliver these abortion services — free from medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s individual choice or the provider-patient relationship,” said the bill’s sponsors in a statement.

Medical personnel who do not wish to participate in the killing of human life in the womb will be at risk of losing their jobs.

Taxpayer-funded abortion

WHPA could force taxpayers to pay for abortions against their will. According to the 2021 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, 58% of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion in the United States, and 77% oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions in foreign countries.

Yet, according to CLI, “[…] State and Federal limits on taxpayer-funded abortion that come within the meaning of ‘insurance or medical assistance coverage of abortion services’ would survive the application of [WHPA], whereas limits outside that exception would be subject to jeopardy under [WHPA].

“[WHPA] does not define the phrase ‘insurance or medical assistance coverage of abortion services.'”

Without clarity on this matter, any ban on taxpayer-funded abortion could be jeopardized if WHPA is passed.

Additional concerns

WHPA could also wipe out parental notification laws, which protect children who are victims of sexual abuse. By calling into question ultrasound and waiting period requirements, women are at risk of not being fully informed about the abortion they are to undergo. In addition, laws protecting babies after 20 weeks gestation when they are capable of surviving outside the womb could also be at risk.

This bill is as pro-abortion as it gets, pulling abortion to the top of the list of important “medical procedures.” Yet, killing a preborn child is never medically necessary. Abortion is not health care and it can be detrimental to a woman’s physical and mental well-being.

For a more detailed analysis, visit the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Editor’s Note, 6/15/21: This article has been updated to add clarification from legal experts regarding the provisions of the Act.

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