The House passed a bill to eliminate various state-level restrictions on abortion on Friday, in what Democrats have described as a push to “codify” Roe v. Wade into law.
The bill passed 218-211 with Representative Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) joining Republicans in voting “no.”
“This is about freedom, about freedom of women to have choice, about the size and timing of their families, [which is] not the business of people on the court or members of Congress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told reporters on Friday morning before the vote.
“Congress must protect the rights of women and pregnant people in every zip code, putting an end to an attack on abortion once and for all,” the bill’s lead sponsor, Representative Jody Chu (D., Calif.), told reporters.
“What the Democrats are bringing before us, it’s really a radical bill….It allows abortion on demand up until birth,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) claimed before the vote. “Regardless of how you feel about the situation, that is not the place I believe Americans are at.”
Among other provisions, the bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, would require states to allow abortions of an unborn baby viable outside the womb if one physician determines that an abortion would protect the woman’s health. The bill would likely supersede state laws mandating a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion procedure, as well as bans on sex-selective abortions.
The WHPA is not expected to advance in the Senate, where Democrats are tied 50-50 with Republicans.
While the WHPA was introduced in previous years, Democrats reintroduced the legislation after Texas’s new abortion law went into effect. The Texas law bans abortions from the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. That law’s unusual enforcement mechanism allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids a woman in obtaining an abortion for $10,000.