Roe at 42: the U.S. House Set to Vote on Discriminatory Abortion Restriction

by Tara Murtha, WLP Staff 

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court decided the landmark abortion case Roe V. Wade.

Forty-two years later, women’s reproductive rights are being chiseled away as national and state anti-choice lawmakers are proposing, and in many cases passing, abortion restrictions at record levels.

To get a sense of the current climate, the 114th Congress introduced a 20-week ban on their first day in session, and then decided to hold a vote on the bill the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That plan was scuttled last night after several Republican women withdrew support.

Twenty-week abortion bans are unconstitutional, dangerous to women’s health and based on fake science. The Congresswomen who backed out of supporting the ban, though, reportedly expressed concern that revealing contempt for women this early in the session would “alienate young female voters.” They also expressed concern about the bill’s narrow exception for rape victims, which requires that a rape victim impregnated by her assailant report the assault to the police to “earn” her right to abortion, though this right is established by Roe V. Wade.

With the 20-week ban temporarily shelved, House Republicans plan to vote for the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

The Hyde Amendment already prohibits tax dollars from funding abortion; the misleading title is to gin up support among people who will not bother to read the actual contents of the bill. What HR 7 actually does is tinker with the free market by prohibiting insurance companies from selling policies that cover abortion through the state exchanges.

HR 7 regulates private business to leverage a woman’s constitutional right against her income by forcing working women—women earning approximately $46,000 a year and under—who may need or want an abortion to pay out of pocket for it.

Here in Pennsylvania, a similar bill (HB 818) already passed into law in 2013. The Pennsylvania law prohibits private insurance companies from selling healthcare plans through the state exchange from covering abortion, even in cases of medical emergency, health of the mother, and severe fetal anomaly. Pennsylvania lawmakers explicitly rejected an amendment to add health of the woman.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 29 states currently prohibit insurance plans from covering abortion services for all or some residents.

Constitutional rights are not only for the wealthy. Tell the House of Representatives to stop discriminating against working women, stop misleading the public and vote NO on HR 7.

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