EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Regional lawmakers are responding to the passage of a federal bill that would protect Texas women from state laws prohibiting access to reproductive health care, especially abortion.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) which Democrats say is central to preserving abortion rights.
“Abortion is health care and a constitutional right” tweeted Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16).
“The Women’s Health Protection Act enshrines the constitutional right to reproductive health care and protects women from extreme and dangerous prohibitions like Texas SB 8,” the tweet continued.
The WHPA would guarantee access to abortion for women despite state laws like SB 8 which prohibits abortion after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
The White House endorsed the WHPA earlier this week, with President Biden’s management and budget office saying “it has never been more important to codify this constitutional right and strengthen access to health care for all women, regardless of their place of residence ”.
The WHPA would realize a national right to abortion by preserving legal guarantees under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey who supported the right to abortion in 1992.
The bill would prohibit federal and state governments from adopting or enforcing any laws, standards, rules or other provisions that conflict with any of the provisions of the WHPA.
The vote in the House comes as Gov. Greg Abbott prepares to sign a bill to limit the use of medical abortion after seven weeks and completely ban the mailing of these pills.
Republicans say Senate Bill 4 (SB4) would protect women’s health, saying in-person ultrasounds would ensure doctors can monitor patients more effectively.
The WHPA must be passed by both the House and the Senate to be enacted, and needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate.
U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (NM-01) voted in favor of the bill on Friday.
“Reproductive justice is a matter of human rights and social justice. The ability of individuals to make decisions about their own bodies and to access health care is fundamental to their self-determination and well-being. I am proud to co-sponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act and I was proud to have voted to pass it in the House today, ”she said.
Republicans protested the bill ahead of the vote and argued that it extended beyond the Roe decision. GOP members also said the WHPA would deprive states of the ability to regulate abortion and prevent states from introducing measures to make abortions safer or lead to late abortions.
“The legislation before us is perhaps the most extreme abortion measure Congress has ever considered,” said Representative Julia Letlow (LA-05). “It will overturn countless protections for the unborn child that states have already put in place.”
The passage of the WHPA comes as states passed more than 90 laws to restrict access to abortion in 2021. New Mexico is one of the few states to have taken action in 2021 to preserve abortion. women’s reproductive rights.
“Across the country, we are seeing an increase in attacks on our bodies, our independence and our health systems. In New Mexico, we are already feeling the effects of Texas’ unconstitutional abortion ban as more and more people seek care in our state, ”Stansbury said. “We must act at the national level to ensure that essential reproductive health care services are available in all communities and that individuals and health care providers cannot be criminalized for exercising their rights. “
For more information on SB8, click here; for our full policy coverage, click here.
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