A bipartisan group of senators, including Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), is making a second effort to pass women’s health protections into law, The Hill reports. The House has tried to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act twice – each time was blocked in the Senate. Sen. Kaine believes this bill is a good start to preserving abortion rights overturned by the conservative-slanted Supreme Court.
“After the Supreme Court gutted a woman’s right to make personal health care decisions, Congress must restore that right,” Kaine said in a statement.
One of the main complaints conservative representatives had with the Women’s Health Protection Act is that it went far beyond codifying Roe into law. The bill would have also expanded abortion access that many states are passing laws to restrict. The bipartisan bill seeks more of a “middle ground” regarding abortion access.
While some of the compromises have popular proposals allowing for comprehensive contraception access, the other details will divide people. Part of the legislation would stop states from passing laws imposing an “undue burden” on those who seek abortion access pre-viability. It would also allow some limits on post-viability abortions, so long as they don’t impact the life and health of the mother. Sen. Susan Collins’s main objection to the Women’s Health Protection Act was religious exceptions were not allowed. This bill would allow for that to happen if possible.
The legislation doesn’t determine what “viability” means. Instead, it leaves that determination to a patient’s health care provider to decide at which point “there is a realistic possibility of maintaining and nourishing a life outside the womb.”
While this seems like a compromise, it will likely not come to a vote in the Senate. It would be hard to see Democrats going for the “viability” language, doctor determinations, and religious exemptions. Republicans are not going to pass anything allowing women more access to abortions.