Hyperbole is common stock and trade in the world of politics. Legislators from both parties cry foul and feign outrage over each other’s policies and proposals so routinely that it is difficult to know when a bill or law is actually deserving of such strong criticism. However, on Friday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives passed an abortion expansion bill that deserves the full attention of the American people. This bill is so morally bankrupt that the hackneyed terms used to express political outrage, such as “extreme” and “radical,” fail to capture the gravity of the bill’s implications.
A Deceptive Title
The deceptively titled Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755) would eliminate almost every state-level restriction on abortion and codify Roe v. Wade into law. Additionally, the bill would weaken conscience protections for medical professionals, jeopardize prohibitions on taxpayer funding for abortion, enshrine late-term abortion into law, strike down commonsense pro-life laws, and equate the death of unborn children with routine medical procedures. The bill passed 218-211 with Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas as the lone Democrat joining every Republican in voting “no.”
People from all points of the political spectrum could agree that H.R. 3755 is too extreme because it ignores the will of the American people and runs roughshod over many commonsense precautions meant to protect the health of women seeking abortions.
Before looking at the specifics of the bill, it is worth noting that the United States is already outside the mainstream when it comes to abortion. Currently, the U.S. is one of seven nations (including China and North Korea) that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, it is worth considering that 65 percent of Americans think states should have the power to make their own abortion laws, and 80 percent say abortion should be illegal in the third trimester, according to recent polling. House Democrats ignored all these factors and proceeded to pass a “women’s health” bill that could be more aptly named the “Abortion on Demand Act.”
What’s in the Bill?
The stated purpose of H.R. 3755 is to “permit health care providers to provide abortion services without limitations or requirements that single out the provision of abortion services.” According to the bill, a law or statute that “impedes access to abortion services” cannot stand. Thus, if H.R. 3755 were to become federal law, state laws requiring informed consent, waiting periods, or counseling prior to receiving an abortion would be overturned.
Significantly, H.R. 3755 places a prohibition on limiting abortion at any point prior to fetal viability (typically 24 weeks). This provision would invalidate laws like Texas’ Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed to stand. Although H.R. 3755 uses the language of viability, it does not define it, meaning abortionists are empowered to make the ultimate determination (see Section 3(7)).
Perhaps one of the most notable provisions of H.R. 3755 is a post-viability health clause. If in the “good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health,” abortion is allowed. Notably, “health” and “risk” are not defined in the bill. Because the bill directs courts to “liberally construe” the bill to “effectuate the purposes of the Act,” the health exemption could allow for a broad interpretation that could include mental or emotional health. The practical effect of the health provision is enshrining abortion until birth into federal law.
Additionally, H.R. 3755 blocks laws that prevent “abortion services via telemedicine,” meaning mail-order chemical abortion pills would be legal and could become widespread. Removing the requirement for in-person interaction with a medical professional in order to be prescribed abortion pills would further isolate victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking from those trained to identify and help them. Furthermore, the bill prohibits states from restricting “a particular abortion procedure,” meaning dismemberment abortions that cause fetal pain and other procedures would be legal.
The Real “Misogyny” of Abortion – The Death of Baby Girls
Finally, there is an intrinsic falsehood in the messaging of H.R. 3755, the most aggressive abortion bill in American history. Although it is titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” the bill does nothing to protect women’s health. Despite a promise earlier this year to “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familiar relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral,” Democrats re-discovered the term “women” just in time to pass this bill. However, in a nod to their commitment to “intersectionality,” they couldn’t resist slipping in a sort of apology for even using the term “women.” Section 2 (a)(8) notes:
The terms ‘‘woman’’ and ‘‘women’’ are used in this bill to reflect the identity of the majority of people targeted and affected by restrictions on abortion services, and to address squarely the targeted restrictions on abortion, which are rooted in misogyny. However, access to abortion services is critical to the health of every person capable of becoming pregnant. This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others—who are unjustly harmed by restrictions on abortion services.
Putting aside the tortured logic that “every person capable of becoming pregnant” is protected by the bill, it is the height of absurdity to claim that restrictions on abortion are rooted in “misogyny.” Commonsense restrictions on abortion could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of baby girls each year, some of whom are aborted on the basis of their sex or for other discriminatory reasons. But H.R. 3755 (in section 4 (a)(11)) strikes down laws that would prohibit abortion acquired on the basis of the baby’s sex. Sex-selection abortion disproportionately affects girls around the world, so claims that abortion restrictions are rooted in misogyny are preposterous.
Pray for the Senate Vote
In section 2, the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act states, “Abortion is essential health care and one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.” This is a morally indefensible statement. Abortion is not health care; it is the intentional killing of an unborn child. Abortion is not safe for the babies who are killed or the mothers who undergo abortion procedures and have to live with the physical and emotional scars, not to mention the mothers who die due to abortion complications. As the nation anticipates the upcoming Senate vote, those who recognize the sanctity of human life must pray for justice and morally upright thinking for the senators who hold the fate of the unborn in their hands.
Originally published with Family Research Council.