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Don't Be Fooled by Calls to 'Codify Roe'

Erin Morrow Hawley
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The Left continues to push dangerous, nonsensical legislation that would outlaw any regulations on abortion.

Ed. Note: The following piece originally appeared at Newsweek, before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Using the leaked Dobbs draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court as a pretext, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forced a vote—for the second time this year—on the so-called "Women's Health Protection Act," a radical piece of legislation that would have invalidated nearly all of the reasonable state abortion laws currently in place to protect the health of pregnant mothers, the dignity of unborn children and the integrity of the medical profession. Once again, the bill failed to pass the Senate.

Sen. Schumer didn't have the votes to pass the bill. The vote was a political ploy by the Left to flaunt its support for "codifying Roe." However, the Women's Health Protection Act is not about simply preserving Roe; it is an extreme attempt to go beyond the Supreme Court decision and completely overrule all state abortion regulations.

The Left has made it clear: it wants total, unrestricted, unregulated access to abortion up until (and maybe even beyond) birth.

One of the most telling aspects of the Women's Health Protection Act is that it would have invalidated state bans on partial-birth abortion—despite language in the bill explicitly declaring it would not interfere with state regulations on the procedure.

Using legislative sleight of hand, the bills' authors wrote that the act does not apply to state laws concerning partial-birth abortion as defined in federal law. However, several states have more expansive definitions of partial-birth abortion than the one included in the federal ban on this barbaric procedure, in order to better protect women and babies in their states. Under the Women's Health Protection Act, those state laws would have been invalidated.

The inclusion of a loophole designed to save the atrocity of partial-birth abortion is shocking. It demonstrates how far the Left is willing to go to ensure unrestricted abortion access until birth in the face of staunch opposition from the American people.

Laws banning partial-birth abortion are popular and have been on the books in many states for decades. Polling consistently demonstrates that the American people are in favor of outlawing abortion in the latter weeks of pregnancy. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, only 13 percent of Americans support legal abortion in the third trimester. What's more, a recent Fox News poll found that 54 percent of Americans favor outlawing abortion after 15 weeks, just as the Mississippi bill at the heart of Dobbs would do.

And yet, the Left continues to push dangerous, nonsensical legislation that would outlaw any regulations on abortion. No regulation—no matter how commonsense or standard—is safe from these brazen attacks.

This includes policies like the longstanding bipartisan Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions. Despite the fact that a convincing majority of Americans support the Hyde Amendment, President Joe Biden excluded Hyde's protections from his 2022 and 2023 budget proposals—the first budgets to eliminate Hyde in over 40 years.

Eliminating the Hyde Amendment and upending state partial-birth abortion bans are just a sliver of the radical abortion agenda to which the Left is now beholden. The Left is not working to protect women's health; it's working to preserve abortionists' bottom line. The Left is not advocating for policies the American people support; it's advocating for policies the abortion industry demands.

If Roe is overturned, and the states are free to regulate abortion as each sees fit, the Left will continue its shameless attempts to tear down common-sense protections for women and babies. Last week's Senate vote proves they're poised to do so.

Erin Morrow Hawley
Erin Morrow Hawley
Senior Counsel
Erin Morrow Hawley serves as senior counsel to the appellate team at Alliance Defending Freedom.