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The Post- Dobbs Future in Congress

by | Jul 14, 2022

By Jennifer Popik, J.D. Director of Federal Legislation

Editor’s note. This appeared on page 5 of the first post-Roe v. Wade issue of National Right to Life News.

Please share this with your pro-life family and friends. 

After nearly 50 years of living under the Roe v. Wade decision, the pro-life movement celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision. While this is the first critical step in a long battle ahead, this decision overruled the Roe and Casey v. Planned Parenthood decisions and returns the abortion issue to elected representatives in Congress and the state legislatures.

Many states have already begun protecting unborn children, while others seek to expand abortion. As for Congress, there are still battles ahead as the 117th Congress closes in on its final months. These upcoming elections will be critical to the future of the pro-life movement and pro-life members of Congress are gearing up for a fight ahead.  

While it is becoming clear to most Americans that abortion will now be debated anew in statehouses across the country and in Congress, the Biden Administration is at work attempting to short circuit the will of the people.  Today, President Biden delivered public remarks and signed an executive order related to abortion. In part it would instruct Health and Human Services to explore options related to expanding access to chemical abortions, and to amass an army of lawyers to defend those violating the law. 

As Politico explained in an article, “Biden signs abortion rights executive order amid pressure,” 

Biden had already asked the administration to explore many of these steps, while others remain vague on their exact mechanisms. The president stressed Friday that none of them would fully restore abortion rights to the tens of millions of people who recently lost them and said the solution is at the ballot box in this November’s midterms.

“We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law,” he said, acknowledging the current situation as “frustrating.” “Your vote can make that a reality.”

The President’s remarks today were littered with glaring falsehoods, mainly as it relates to giving women treatment in emergency situations or punishing women who have aborted. What the President deliberately ignored is that the pro-life movement is vehemently opposed to women being prosecuted for having or seeking an abortion. An open letter to state legislators stating the opposition of the movement to the prosecution of women was signed by over 70 pro-life groups.

Further, pro-life legislation explicitly makes clear that treatment for miscarriages does not fall under the legal meaning of abortion. No law exists that outlaws the treatment of ectopic pregnancies. No existing definition of abortion applies to the treatment of ectopic pregnancy.

Battles ahead

If Republicans are able to retake majorities in Congress, not only can they start working on pro-life bills, but they can also stop the Democrat abortion agenda.  This is not to say that challenges won’t remain.  Regardless of the midterm outcome, President Biden and his pro-abortion administration will still remain in power another two years.  And even if a Republican piece of legislation could pass the House and attract 60 votes in the Senate, the President will still wield veto power. 

The first step is to elect pro-life Republicans to Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. If the Democrats keep or grow their majorities in Congress, there is a great deal at stake. While any effort to “codify Roe v. Wade” would be likely to fall well short of the 60 votes needed, it is due to the fact that the filibuster remains intact in the U.S. Senate.  While support among Senate Democrats to end the filibuster rule has grown in recent years, they would need 50 votes to do so. Currently, Sens. Manchin (D-Wv.) and Sinema (D-Az.) have committed to keeping the filibuster intact. 

If the Democrats were able to gain two or three seats, however, it is extremely likely that they would eliminate the filibuster and only require simple majority votes to pass sweeping legislation such as the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” While this legislation remains stalled in the Senate, Democrats in the House are planning yet another vote on this legislation this coming week. 

If Republicans were to retake Congress, many of the same important pieces of legislation they have been attempting to pass for many years will continue to be a priority. While some states will protect unborn children, it is imperative that Congress continues to advance legislation that will affect the over half of states where abortion on demand remains legal.

For example, Republicans have committed to continue to preserve the Hyde Amendment to prevent taxpayer-funded abortion and to work to make it permanent and government-wide.  Additionally, House leadership has worked hard to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to ensure that babies born alive in an attempted abortion receive proper medical care. 

Also on the table is the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to prevent abortions on babies capable of experiencing pain, at the 15th week of pregnancy.  There are also important measures such as the Heartbeat Bill, to prevent an abortion once a baby has a detectable heartbeat, typically around 6 weeks.

With the Biden Administration’s vehement commitment to abortion, it is critical to ensure that pro-life members are elected to majorities the 118th Congress. While we celebrate the victory in the Dobbs decision after decades of work keeping this debate alive, we cannot rest until every baby is welcome in life and protected in the law. 

Categories: Legislation
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