Today, women of the senate came together to condemn the abortion bill that was passed in the House yesterday as “an outrage,” The Hill reports. The Republican-majority House passed legislation yesterday that would ban abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. The bill passed in a 228-196 vote, falling mostly along party lines, with only six Democrats voting for it and six Republicans opposing it.
“The bill that they passed yesterday is a nonstarter in the Senate and it’s a nonstarter with the majority women,” Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said. “It was a charade to appeal to a dwindling base, but it’s a charade that will end here today.”
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) also voiced her criticism of the far-reaching bill, which the White House has called an “assault on a woman’s right to choose.” “This House Republican bill that passed yesterday is a frontal assault on women’s health,” she said. “They’re back in full force with an even more extreme anti-choice and anti-women agenda.”
The bill did not include an exception for the health of the mother, according to Boxer. Republicans added an exception for victims of rape and incest, stipulating that the woman must first report the sexual assault to police. This last-minute addition came after a broader Democratic amendment to add the exemption was defeated last week. Boxer said the exception does not “fix the problem” because it is dependent upon whether the victim reports the rape or incest to authorities.
Republicans have been trying to impose tighter restrictions on women’s right to choose through various outlets, and attempting to invalidate Roe v. Wade, little by little. Ten states have passed bans on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it seems like every week a new politician is in the news for some outlandish comment related to the abortion debate.
Last week Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), the sponsor of the bill passed Tuesday evening, said that he opposed an exemption for rape because “the incidence[s] of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” In April, the Chairman for the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said that Planned Parenthood is a Democrat-backed supporter of infanticide. And last year, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a then six-term member of Congress, said that women’s bodies could prevent unwanted pregnancy in instances of “legitimate rape.”
Conservative politicians have been attempting to institute personhood bills and require women to undergo invasive, transvaginal ultrasound procedures, anything to restrict women’s rights. Earlier this year, Republicans in Michigan pushed a bill to force women to have an invasive ultrasound procedure at least two hours before having an abortion. Rep. Joel Johnson (R-MI), who introduced the bill, said that “a state is permitted to enact persuasive measures that favor childbirth over abortion, even if those measures do not further a health interest.”
Alabama Senator Shadrack McGill (R) this year introduced a bill to give personhood rights to a fertilized egg, and ban abortion at any stage, based on his belief that life begins at fertilization, whether that occurs normally or “creatively outside the mother’s womb.” The senator also compared abortion to destroying an eagle’s egg, asking why there is a $250,000 charge for destroying an eagle egg, “but you can destroy babies in the womb?”
Senator Patty Murray said the House’s bill would “take the nation backward 40 years,” to when the Supreme Court of the United States decided that women have the right to privacy and the right to make their own healthcare decisions, with Roe v. Wade. “They’ve shown this isn’t about what’s best for women,” she said. “It’s about political calculations and appeasing the far right.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.