Congressional Bill Would Undermine State Anti-abortion Laws

A bill entitled the “Women’s Health Protection Act” (S. 1696) that was introduced in the Senate last November would override state and local laws restricting abortion. The bill gathered 34 cosponsors in the Senate from November through May, just 17 short of a majority.

A companion bill, H.R. 3471, was introduced in the House and has 115 cosponsors, the latest being added on June 17.

S. 1696 was introduced in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and its cosponsors include some of the most liberal members of the Senate, including Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

H.R.  3471 was introduced in the House by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and has been cosponsored by more than one-fourth of the House membership.

The text of the legislation laments:

Since 2010, there has been an equally dramatic increase in the number of laws and regulations singling out abortion that threaten women’s health and their ability to access safe abortion services by interfering with health care professionals’ ability to provide such services. Congressional action is now necessary to put an end to these restrictions. In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in the passage of laws that blatantly violate the constitutional protections afforded women, such as bans on abortions prior to viability.

The intrusive, anti-states’ rights aspect of this legislation is apparent from its definition of those governments it intends to curtail: “The term ‘government’ includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, or individual acting under color of law of the United States, a State, or a subdivision of a State.”