The House Is Making Moves To Attempt To Protect Abortion In A Post-Roe World

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on two bills on Friday that aim to protect access to abortion on a federal level (via CNN). In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the two bills would help restore nationwide protections for people seeking access to abortion and prevent states from completely banning both surgical and medication abortions. One of the bills, known as the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022, would protect an individual's right to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion. If passed, the bill would prohibit anyone from restricting or punishing an individual for seeking access to abortion care in another state.

The second bill is the Women's Health Protection Act of 2022, which would codify abortion rights into federal law, per CNN. This bill would also protect and expand access to abortions, preventing states from banning abortions before 24 weeks of gestation, which is when fetal viability — a fetus's ability to survive outside the uterus — is considered to begin (via Associated Press). In addition, the Women's Health Protection Act of 2022 would carve out exceptions beyond the 24-week mark to protect the life and health of the pregnant person.

Bills protecting abortion access are unlikely to pass through the Senate

This comes just one week after President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at safeguarding access to abortion and contraception and protecting the privacy and security of doctors and abortion patients (via NBC News). The executive order did not, however, restore abortion rights on a federal level. Since then, committees in both the House and Senate have held hearings during the week on the impact of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In anticipation of Friday's vote in the House, lawmakers listened to testimony during the week from health officials and abortion providers, who helped provide insight into the ways in which the ruling has already significantly impeded Americans' access to abortion care. While these two bills could help restore abortion rights previously upheld under Roe, experts at the Associated Press are not so sure that they will actually become law. Although the House may vote in favor of both the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022 and the Women's Health Protection Act of 2022, the two bills may not have enough votes to pass through the Senate.