Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been working on promoting the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) for some time after it became apparent the Supreme Court had accepted a case that could result in the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Now that a draft opinion in that case has leaked, Schumer has begun working overtime pushing the extreme federal abortion measure.
Republicans will be well served to be sure every senator and the American public fully understand just how far-reaching and radical the WHPA would be if enacted.
The WHPA creates a right to abortion through the full term of pregnancy. The bill sets out an absolute right to abort anytime before “viability,” or when a baby could likely survive outside the womb. Thereafter, all that would be needed before actual birth is a certification from a single “health care provider” who could state that the pregnancy presents a danger to a mother’s life or “health.” That could include mental health, without any meaningful definitional restrictions.
The WHPA would strike down almost every state law on parental consent and notification for abortions provided to minor mothers.
The Schumer bill would also severely weaken the rights of health care providers to exclude themselves from providing abortions through eliminating protections in place under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Constitution.
The bill also creates a legal right for non-doctors to perform abortions at any stage of pregnancy. The certification that a post-viability pregnancy is harmful to a mother’s mental health can also be made by a “certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.”
The WHPA would also immediately invalidate state bans on partial-birth abortions. It leaves the existing federal ban on such procedures in place, but would operate under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution to override existing state bans.
State partial-birth abortion bans are typically more broadly defined than the federal ban. States cannot count on the DOJ to enforce the federal ban because of limited resources and simple progressive politics.
The WHPA passed the House last September on a narrow party-line vote, but it has already failed to get past a filibuster in the Senate in February. While it is likely to fail again in the Senate, Schumer is committed to bringing it back up for another vote now that the end may be near for Roe v. Wade. Republicans will do well to expose the extreme bill once again for what it is.