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The Democrats’ Radical Abortion Bill

The Women's Health Protection Act would eviscerate every existing federal conscience provision for anti-abortion health-care providers.
abortion sign

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he is scheduling a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act for next Wednesday. The bill would allow abortion in all 50 states up to the moment of birth, preempt federal legislation protecting conscience rights, and condemn tens of thousands of unborn children to death in the name of “women’s health.”

The legislation, which passed the Democrat-controlled House in September 2021, bars states from restricting access to “abortion at any point or points in time prior to fetal viability” and from banning late-term abortions when the pregnancy poses “a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.” That effectively legalizes abortion on demand up to birth, as the Supreme Court has held in Doe v. Bolton that “health” encompasses not only a woman’s actual physical health but her “emotional, psychological,” and “familial” health.

Senator Richard Blumenthal told Politico that the Senate version of the bill is identical to the House version, except that omits the House bill’s findings. Those “non-binding findings” included references to “transgender men,” “gender oppression,” and the claim that abortion targets “health care services that are used primarily by women,” implying people other than women can get pregnant.

Senator Susan Collins signaled she is a “no” on this draft of the WHPA because it “doesn’t protect the right of a Catholic hospitals to not perform abortions.” Blumenthal responded that Collins was wrong, and claimed that there is nothing in the bill “that detracts in any way from existing protections based on conscience or religion.”

Blumenthal is either lying or ignorant of the text. The bill expressly preempts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and any law that “impedes access to abortion services.” The latter would include conscience provisions like the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from funding any federal, state, or local government that discriminates against hospitals and other institutions that refuse to provide abortions, and the Church Amendment, which ensures that federal funds for health services are not made contingent on the recipient’s willingness to perform abortions.

The ACLU and other activist groups have targeted both protections for a long time, and were the WHPA or something like it to pass a future Congress—there is next to no chance it passes the current one—you can count on those organizations to claim in court that existing conscience provisions written into law were nullified by the WHPA or its equivalent.