by Melanie Israel
In response to pro-life policy victories like the Texas Heartbeat Act and an upcoming Supreme Court case asking the justices to provide a constitutional course correction to America’s arbitrary and unworkable abortion jurisprudence, pro-abortion legislators in Congress are advancing a deceptively named piece of legislation called the Women’s Health Protection Act. The radical, far-reaching proposal would entrench unfettered access to abortion in federal law.
That’s an egregious mischaracterization that understates just how radical the proposal actually is. The Act goes far beyond the already permissive regime permitted under America’s existing abortion jurisprudence.
If enacted, the Women’s Health Protection Act would endanger essentially all state-level abortion restrictions, existing state and federal conscience protection laws, and various provisions limiting taxpayer funding for abortions. Congress should reject this radical proposal.
More Radical Than Roe
The Women’s Health Protection Act would expressly prohibit existing laws that regulate abortion and the abortion industry. The bill bans informed consent requirements, reflection periods, and provisions that give women the opportunity to view an image of their unborn child or listen to the child’s heartbeat.
The proposed federal policy would also preempt policies like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which currently protects women and their unborn children in more than a dozen states from inhumane late-term abortions performed after 20 weeks. The scientific evidence suggests that a baby can feel excruciating pain during an abortion procedure performed after 20 weeks.
Bill Ignores Pro-Life Policy Consensus
The Women’s Health Protection Act would imperil policies like the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer dollars from paying for elective abortion in federal programs like Medicaid. Over the past four decades, the Hyde Amendment has saved more than 2.4 million lives.
It would also jeopardize longstanding policies that protect conscience and religious freedom, ignoring America’s proud tradition of respecting individuals and entities’ right to not participate in abortion.
These pro-life policies enjoy broad support across the political spectrum. A majority of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions, including 65% of independents and 31% of Democrats, according to a January Marist poll commissioned by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus. Likewise, a majority of Americans support conscience rights for individuals and entities that object to abortion.
States have enacted more than 500 life-protecting policies in the last decade. Congress would do well to remember that such policies are in in place precisely because elected representatives did what their constituents asked them to do: protect unborn human life and women’s health and safety.
Congress Must Reject Pro-Abortion Extremism
Americans broadly support policies that the sweeping Women’s Health Protection Act would disallow. Rather than prohibit pro-life policies where they exist, Congress should pursue policies that protect innocent unborn human lives—including those not yet born—and society should support women who face challenging or unplanned pregnancies.
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Melanie Israel is a policy analyst with the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.
Photo “Nancy Pelosi” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.