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Related Categories: U.S. | Womyn
Why Congress Must Codify Roe
by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
Saturday Sep 11th, 2021 4:18 AM
With all eyes on Texas Thursday [Sept 9] as the U.S. Justice Department sued the Lone Star State over its new abortion ban, Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt held a ceremonial bill signing for nine so-called "pro-life" measures he approved during this year's legislative session—highlighting the need for Congress to protect reproductive rights at the federal level.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who was flanked by anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser and GOP state lawmakers for the event, said that "I promised Oklahomans I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise."

The ceremony came as Republicans in states including Oklahoma are trying to replicate Texas' recently enacted ban, which not only outlaws abortion at six weeks but also empowers anti-choice vigilantes to enforce it. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to take effect last week, heightening concerns about how the six right-wing justices will rule on an upcoming case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision affirming abortion rights.

"This is a nationwide crisis that requires a nationwide solution, and Congress must also do its part," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Thursday.

"That's why we are looking forward to passing the Women's Health Protection Act out of the House of Representatives this month, and why we're calling on the Senate to abolish the filibuster so we can send this urgent bill to the president's desk," she added. "That is how we finally codify the right to abortion in federal law, outlaw attacks on access, and protect healthcare for millions."

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) in June. The bill (H.R. 3755/S. 1975) now has 205 additional sponsors in the House and 47 in the Senate. In response to the Texas law, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the House would vote on the legislation when it returns from recess later this month.

However, even if the House passes the WHPA, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) join fellow Democrats in supporting it, Senate rules enable the GOP to block most progressive legislation. Texas' new anti-choice law has elevated calls for Senate Democrats to end the filibuster, but right-wingers in the party including Manchin are standing in the way of that.
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