US House of Representatives votes to restore abortion rights

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted to restore abortion rights nationwide in the Democrats’ first legislative response to the landmark Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The bill is unlikely to become law, with the necessary support lacking in the Senate 50-50.

But the vote marks the start of a new era in the debate as politicians, governors and legislatures grapple with the impact of the court’s decision.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flanked by House Democrat women (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Legislation passed 219-210. The House was also voting on a separate bill to prohibit the punishment of a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to have an abortion.

“Just three weeks ago, the Supreme Court swept away basic rights by overturning Roe v. Wade,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of the votes, gathered with other female Democrats on the steps of the Capitol.

“It is outrageous that 50 years later, women must again fight for our most basic rights against an extremist court.”

Republicans came out strongly against the bills, praising the Supreme Court’s decision and warning that the legislation would go further than Roe ever did in legalizing abortion.

Urging her colleagues to vote no, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers called abortion “the greatest human rights issue of our generation.”

She said the Democratic legislation “has nothing to do with protecting women’s health. It has everything to do with forcing an extreme agenda on the American people.”

By overturning Roe, the court allowed states to enact strict limits on abortion, many of which had previously been ruled unconstitutional.

The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.

Already, a number of Republican-controlled states have moved quickly to restrict or ban abortion, while Democratic-controlled states have sought to defend access.

Voters now rank abortion among the most pressing issues facing the country, a shift in priorities that Democrats hope will reshape the political landscape in their favor for the midterm elections.

This is the second time the House has passed the bill, which would expand protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters see as medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.

This would prevent bans on abortions before 24 weeks, when fetal viability, the ability of a human fetus to survive outside the womb, is generally thought to begin.

It allows exceptions for abortions after fetal viability when a provider determines that the life or health of the mother is in danger.

The Democrats’ proposal would also prevent states from requiring providers to share “medically inaccurate” information, or requiring additional tests or waiting times, often intended to deter a patient from having an abortion.

The bill that would ban penalties for out-of-state travel would also specify that doctors cannot be punished for providing reproductive care outside of their home state.

Democrat Lizzie Fletcher, one of the authors of the bill, said the threats to travel “do not reflect the fundamental rights that are granted in our Constitution.”

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