The House on Friday passed a bill to uphold abortion rights for women, taking swift action in response to a new Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state.
The final tally was 218-211 with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the vote.
The House bill has little chance of becoming law and is largely symbolic given Republican opposition in the Senate.
J. Scott Applewhite/APHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference just before a House vote on legislation aimed at guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion, an effort by House Democrats to circumvent a new Texas law that has placed that access under threat, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 24, 2021. Joining Pelosi are, from left, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Rep. Judy Chu, and Rep. Diana DeGette.
Shortly after, Senate Majority Leader Schumer announced that the Senate will soon take up and vote on the House-passed legislation, but to advance it would require the support of at least 10 Republicans, and it is not clear all Democrats would support it, either.
MORE: 2 disbarred attorneys outside Texas sue abortion doctor under SB8
The House bill would codify protections provided by the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized women’s right to an abortion.
The Texas law that passed in September prohibits abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allows “any person, other than an officer or employee of state or local government,” to bring a civil suit against someone believed to have “aided or abetted” an unlawful abortion.
People who successfully sue an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000.
Eric Gay/AP, FILETexas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio, March 16, 2020.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the so-called “heartbeat ban” on May 19 and it went into effect on Sept. 1.
MORE: Abortion bill similar to Texas' controversial ban introduced in Florida
The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Sept. 1 to allow SB8 to take effect on procedural grounds, despite what the majority acknowledged as “serious questions” about constitutionality. The justices did not address those questions.
Pelosi has said taking congressional action would make a “tremendous difference” in Democrats’ efforts to maintain access to abortion rights. She called the Supreme Court’s decision “shameful.”
Ahead of Friday’s vote, Pelosi said the House legislation should “send a very positive message to the women of our country — but not just the women, to the women and their families, to everyone who values freedom, honors our Constitution and respects women.”
Since Texas’s abortion ban went into effect, lawmakers in 11 states, including Florida, have announced intentions or plans to model legislation after the state’s law, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a Mississippi abortion case in early December. The high court is expected to consider the legality of Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law that is intended to challenge Roe v. Wade.
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