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House passes bill that would protect abortion rights amid state challenges

Legislation is largely symbolic with little chance of passing in Senate
Nancy Pelosi, Sylvia Garcia, Judy Chu, Diana DeGette
Posted at 1:45 PM, Sep 24, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation passed by the House on Friday would guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion.

However, it's a largely symbolic gesture because Republican opposition will doom the measure in the Senate.

The House vote is part of an effort by Democrats to circumvent a new Texas law that has placed that access under threat.

Democrats say they'll do all they can to codify the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

They say abortion rights are under threat after the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law that would ban most abortions in the state to take effect.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among a group of lawmakers who spoke at a press conference after the bill was passed by the House.

“In some ways, this is a great day for the women, indeed all the families of America. In another way, it's sad that it is so necessary because of actions of that Supreme Court supporting legislation that is shameful in every way to our country and what we are all about,” said Pelosi. “But many have waited a long time to be able to pass Roe v. Wade into the law of the land as it has guaranteed the constitutional right of women to choose, but now it will be the law of the land codified.”

In addition to the Texas law, the U.S. Supreme Court announced earlier this week that it will begin hearing oral arguments in an abortion case out of Mississippi that will challenge Roe v. Wade.

The court is considering the legality of the state’s Gestation Age Act, which seeks to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks except in cases of a “medical emergency” or “severe fetal abnormality.” The bill was signed into law in 2018, but it was blocked by two federal courts.

Under the law, doctors who intentionally or knowingly perform an abortion after 15 weeks could have their licenses to practice medicine in Mississippi suspended or revoked. They may also be subject to additional penalties or fines.

The consideration of the Mississippi case comes at a time when conservative justices hold a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court.