A New Abortion Rights Bill Could Help Decide the Midterms

Abortion rights supporters call it a simple, common sense, fair bill that puts abortion on the same level as every other similar health care procedure. Abortion opponents, on the other hand, have dubbed it the “most radical abortion bill ever,” with some even calling it the “‘Abortion Without Limits Until Birth’ bill.” Either way, The Women’s Health Protection Act is expected to have serious influence on the upcoming midterm elections, and both sides believe that they will be the ones to reap the benefits.

The Women’s Health Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.) would override state bills meant to restrict abortion access that put medically unnecessary restrictions on the procedure, such as requiring admitting privileges in an attempt to close clinics, banning abortion prior to viability, and other state intercessions into regulating abortion over the best medical practices and advice of the pregnant person’s physician.

“Under the WHPA, a state would not be able to force women to undergo medically unnecessary visits or needless medical procedures like ultrasound,” writes Robin Abcarian at the L.A. Times. “They would not be able to limit a nurse’s ability to dispense pregnancy ending drugs, or to counsel a patient via telemedicine. They would not be able to impose rules about the clinic, its equipment or staff (like hospital admitting privileges). They would not be able to impose restrictions on medical training for abortion procedures. Unless, of course, the state imposes those rules on all clinics where ‘medically comparable procedures’ take place.”

If passed, the bill could negate the hundreds of new abortion restrictions passed in just the last three years, restrictions that have made abortion accessible in name only in many of the red and rural states in the country.

Like any abortion or birth control-related federal bill, it’s more debate than reality. As long as Republicans control the House and Democrats control the senate, no bill either in support of or against abortion and contraception has a chance at becoming law. What is happening, instead, is a war over who will win the framing of the debate itself.

In that arena, the GOP is pushing hard. “NRLC President Carol Tobias tied the measure to the midterm elections, saying that many voters would be ‘appalled’ to learn about the bill’s strong support among Democrats,” writes Roll Call, who says anti-abortion groups have “declared war” over the act. The news outlet quotes Tobias stating, “‘Two-thirds of Senate Democrats have already cosponsored a bill to impose nationwide the extreme ideological doctrine that elective abortion must not be limited in any meaningful way, at any stage of pregnancy.”

Not to be left out, Susan B. Anthony List has pushed similar “extremist” rhetoric. “The bill being advanced today would literally overturn hundreds of pro-life, pro-woman laws across the country,” SBA List’s Mallory Quiqley told CBN News. “We’re talking laws to end sex-selection abortion, third-trimester abortions, abortion on babies that are more than five months old and capable of feeling pain. This is an extreme bill.”

Pro-abortion rights groups see the bill very differently. “It would prohibit states from singling out reproductive health care providers with oppressive requirements that grossly exceed what is necessary to ensure high standards of care–and that apply to no similarly low-risk medical procedures,” Center for Reproductive Rights’ Nancy Northup wrote in a commentary at MSNBC.com. “It would maintain those regulations that actually ensure patient safety in the provision of reproductive health care–while putting a stop to dangerous regulations that are passed under the pretext of protecting women’s well-being, but that actually cut off access to abortion care and endanger women’s health and lives.”

So who will win the war of rhetoric? If abortion opponents can convince the public that this really is about abortion until the moment of birth, for any reason and under every circumstance, that will be the message of every close senate race from now until November. If supporters can instead frame it as protecting women from returning to illegal, do it yourself procedures — a practice already allegedly popping up in Texas — then they will be using the bill themselves as voters head to the polls.

At which point the battle will play out on the ballot and it seems that whichever party wins the framing war will probably end up winning control of the senate too.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

97 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for the article.

Christine Jones
Christine J.about a year ago

The comment "bill that puts abortion on the same level as every other similar health care procedure" astonished me. There is no other similar health care procedure, except perhaps euthanasia.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.1 years ago

Not Republicans or Democrats but rather believers or non-believers. Each have their personal beliefs and choices and will never convince the other, nor should it

Sharon Tyson
sharon Tyson1 years ago

No progress will be made on woman's reproductive health until the Republican's are not in the majority. Voting is so important. Woman can advocate for changes but we have to VOTE!

janet t.
janet t.1 years ago

I sincerely doubt if anyone wants to get an abortion. The ones done in the 2nd or 3rd trimester were wanted pregnancies. They are done for medical reasons and not for convenience. To outlaw them is outrageous. To outlaw them on someone else's religious dogma is worse than outrageous.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se1 years ago

ty

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert1 years ago

It won't pass anyway

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola1 years ago

thank you for posting

Judie B.
Judie B.1 years ago

Martha F., your entire argument becomes irrelevant when you use the non-existent term, "pro-abortionists." There is no such thing as a pro-abortionist. They only exist in fantasy lands with fairies, elves, liberal Tea Party Republicans, Minotaurs and little god-like men who live in the sky.

Freya H.
Freya H.1 years ago

Mary C., very good comment; unfortunately, you are turning into a cut-and-paste parrot like that pest John M.

To you who call yourselves pro-life, you are LIARS. You are not pro-life, you are pro-birth and anti-life. If you really cared about those fetuses and embryos, you would want them to be born into a world that can be reasonably expected to support them. a world where they will have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, adequate (if not fancy) shelter, decent clothes, and access to at least basic education and medical care. Instead, your pet politicians are nearly always the ones who slash SNAP and other public aid to the bone, harping on the tiny percentage of parasites - while upping corporate welfare and spending zillions on unnecessary wars or propping up murderous rogue nations. The people you so-called pro-lifers elect are usually the ones who support fracking and try to gut reasonable environmental protections. And so on, and so on, and so on.