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House OKs abortion bill called 'far outside the American mainstream'

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WASHINGTON — In a 218-211 vote Sept. 24, the U.S. House passed what opponents consider one of the most extreme abortion bills ever seen in the nation — the Women's Health Protection Act.

"This bill is far outside the American mainstream and goes far beyond Roe v. Wade," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said in remarks ahead of the vote. "This bill constitutes an existential threat to unborn children and to the value of life itself."

H.R. 3755 codifies the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. The measure establishes the legal right to abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy in all 50 states under federal law.

"For the first time ever by congressional statute, H.R. 3755 would legally enable the death of unborn baby girls and boys by dismemberment, decapitation, forced expulsion from the womb, deadly poisons or other methods at any time until birth," the Catholic congressman said.

He pointed to a 2021 Marist Poll that found 65% of Americans want Roe v. Wade "reinterpreted to either send the issue to the states or stop legalized abortion."

The bill nullifies: requirements to provide women seeking abortion with specific information on their unborn child and on alternatives to abortion; laws requiring a waiting period before a woman receives an abortion; laws allowing medical professionals to opt out of providing abortions; and laws stating that only licensed physicians can perform abortions.

"In the United States, the tragically pervasive acceptance of abortion has resulted in more than 62 million abortions since Roe v. Wade," Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said in a statement.

"Still, today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impose abortion on demand nationwide — and thus double down on daily murder of the defenseless — by passing the false and deceptively named 'Women's Health Protection Act,'" he said Sept. 24.

"Let us be clear: Abortion harms women and ends the life of a child; it is not health care, and it protects no one," he said. "Health and protection are about healing, defending and saving lives, not destroying them."

"This deceptively named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee, said Sept. 24. "H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children -- including baby girls."

If it became law, "it would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional and spiritual scars," he said in a statement.

"This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy" and "is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women," he continued. "In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public."

"Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children and the consciences of all Americans," Archbishop Naumann added, "not advance a radical 'abortion on demand until birth' policy."

The Senate version of the Women's Health Protection Act, S. 1975, is not expected to pass, but sponsors of the House bill said their vote still sends a message about the outrage they say has been felt by women over the new Texas law banning abortion after six weeks.

The vote also comes ahead of the Dec. 1 oral arguments to be heard by the high court in an appeal from Mississippi to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Supporters of the law are urging the court to reexamine its previous abortion rulings, including Roe.

National pro-life leaders were quick to respond to the House vote, including Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, who said that "pro-abortion Democrats have revealed their true vision for abortion policy in America."

All House Democrats but one voted for H.R. 3755; no House Republicans voted for it.

If President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "and their allies get their way, the United States will soon be indistinguishable from North Korea and China on the human rights issue of abortion," Mancini said.

Biden and Pelosi are both Catholics who support legal abortion and have vowed to see Roe codified in federal law.

Regarding the bill's provision invalidating all state laws, National Right to Life's president Carol Tobias noted that "the 10th Amendment, which gives each state the right to set its own policy, is in the U.S. Constitution. Abortion is not."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021