The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced on Monday that the Biden administration had endorsed the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755). An OMB statement noted that the endorsement comes in response to the recent legislation in Texas, which the OMB claimed: “blatantly violates existing Supreme Court precedent established under Roe v. Wade.” In its statement, the OMB claimed that abortion was a “constitutional right.”
The stated purpose of the act is to “permit health care providers to provide abortion services without limitations or requirements”. The bill explicitly states that it “supersedes and applies to the law of the Federal Government and each State government.”
The bill dispenses with medical tests and procedures that were previously required before carrying out an abortion. This could include ultrasounds, counseling, or mandatory waiting periods. It also would bar states from imposing in-person clinic visits prior to obtaining an abortion, often referred to as “two-trip” requirements.
The bill would bar states from prohibiting any abortion prior to fetal viability. It also would bar the prohibition of abortion after fetal viability if, in the healthcare provider’s judgment, continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.
‘Viability’ (i.e. the ability to survive outside the uterus) is a term that is often used to describe late-term abortions that are performed at the 20th week of pregnancy or later. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines a late-term pregnancy as 41 weeks.
Currently, 43 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. While every state that permits abortion allows for late-term abortions to protect mother’s life/physical health, at least seven states allow late-term abortions with no restrictions.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation by a narrowly decided vote of 218-211 on Friday. But many believe the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate.
The bill was also endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who said, “This is about freedom, about freedom of women to have choice about the size and timing of their families.”
Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) explained the implications of the bill.
“The legislation overrides past and future pro-life laws, both at the federal and the state level,” Bice said at a news conference on Tuesday. “”If signed into law,” Bice stated, “it would create a national standard to allow abortion for any reason at any stage of pregnancy, up to birth.”
Biden’s Department of Justice is taking this one step further by suing Texas over its anti-abortion legislation. The Texas legislation prohibits abortion if an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected that usually begins at around six weeks of gestation. It also allows private citizens to sue anyone perceived to be helping patients obtain abortions.
“The act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. The Supreme Court clearly disagreed as it voted 5-4 earlier this month to not block the law.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted that the administration “should focus on fixing the border crisis, Afghanistan, the economy and countless other disasters instead of meddling in state’s sovereign rights.”