A deceptively-titled “Women’s Health Protection Act” has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House, in an effort to nullify all state regulations on abortion. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and in the House by Judy Chu (D-CA). The Senate bill, S.1696, currently has 32 co-sponsors. The House Bill, H.R. 3471, has 77. Details of this bill may be found at congress.gov.

The “findings” in the preface to the bill assert that abortion has been “hindered” by blockades, restrictions on insurance coverage, restrictions on minors, and restrictions on providers.

The Act, if passed, would go on to wipe out all state and local laws regulating abortion. The text of the bill includes a provision that courts are to construe the Act “liberally.” Among the laws that would be nullified are parental involvement statutes, physical plant requirements such as doorway width to accommodate gurneys, waiting periods, and attempts to regulate the dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs.

The Act makes no provision for preborn children, including those born alive after failed attempts at abortion. All actions by an abortion provider would be exempt from state regulation, as long as the provider would be exercising her or his “best” medical judgment. The Act is clearly a response to the dozens of laws adopted in recent years by state legislatures in an attempt to balance women’s and childrens’ health with the rights of abortion providers.

While issues arising from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have grabbed headlines, the WHPA was introduced relatively quietly in mid-November. To date, the Senate version (S. 1696) has 32 co-sponsors, while the House’s bill (H.R. 3471) has 77.

Details of the bill from a New Hampshire perspective are described in today’s post in Leaven for the Loaf.

 

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