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Pelosi stands firm on forcing second House vote on bill to codify abortion rights

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted that she was not going to negotiate a more narrow abortion rights bill that could potentially get through the Senate, asked why she was pushing through a second vote on a bill that pro-choice Senate moderates have already said is too broad. 

‘We’re not going to negotiate on a woman’s right to choose. Senators Murkowski and Senator Collins may have their view, but it is not one about a woman having the right to decide. So we’re not negotiating that, no,’ Pelosi said in her weekly briefing Thursday. 

On Friday the House is set to take its second vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act after passing the measure in February. The bill failed the Senate in May. 

The 2021 version of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), led by California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, failed in a procedural vote 51-49. 

The bill would have needed 60 votes, 10 from Republicans, to pass, but failed to garner even a simple majority as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted against it, as did pro-choice Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan Collins, Maine. 

‘People don’t like it when we say vote, vote, in 100 days people will be voting we have to elect a couple more democratic senators so that we can get around the filibuster so we can pass legislation that truly impacts a woman’s right to choose but is not a halfway measure,’ Pelosi said. 

‘We’re not going to negotiate on a woman’s right to choose. Senators Murkowski and Senator Collins may have their view, but it is not one about a woman having the right to decide. So we’re not negotiating that, no,’ Pelosi said in her weekly briefing Thursday

‘You can’t be a little bit pregnant in this it has to be a real measure …. So no it’s not for negotiation. What are you going to negotiate? Whether a woman can have contraception?’ 

Congress has faced renewed pressure to act on abortion rights after the Supreme Court in June voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in Jackson v. Women’s Health Organization.  

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, who opposed the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month and have worked on legislation to codify abortion rights, think the WHPA goes too far and could infringe on religious freedom protections. 

Murkowski said in a statement ahead of the May vote that the Women’s Health Protection Act was billed as a way to ‘codify Roe v. Wade’ but ‘in reality goes much further—nullifying state and religious freedom laws across the country in the process.’

'People don't like it when we say vote, vote, in 100 days people will be voting we have to elect a couple more democratic senators so that we can get around the filibuster so we can pass legislation that truly impacts a woman's right to choose but is not a halfway measure,' Pelosi said

‘People don’t like it when we say vote, vote, in 100 days people will be voting we have to elect a couple more democratic senators so that we can get around the filibuster so we can pass legislation that truly impacts a woman’s right to choose but is not a halfway measure,’ Pelosi said

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both who opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, do not support the Women’s Health Protection Act, and have instead submitted their own more narrow abortion bill 

Murkowski noted that the bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal dollars from funding abortion, does not include conscience protections for healthcare providers who do not wish to perform abortions due to their religious beliefs and ‘allows late-term abortions without any notable restrictions.’

Collins said in a statement at the time: ‘I support codifying the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That’s not what the Women’s Health Protection Act would do. Unlike some far-left activists, Senator Murkowski and I want the law today to be the law tomorrow.

Collins said the WHPA would blow up protections for health care providers who wish not to provide abortions on moral or religious grounds. 

She noted that language in the WHPA states that except as specified, it ‘supersedes and applies to the law of the Federal Government and each State government,’ including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Collins’ and Murkowski’s legislation, known as the Reproductive Choice Act, would follow the language in Roe v. Wade and prohibit states from imposing an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy pre-viability, or before a fetus could survive outside the womb. It said that states could enact abortion restrictions post-viability but not in cases that would affect the mother’s health. 

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