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Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Strike Down State Abortion Laws

Far-reaching measure would invalidate law used to convict late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

12:00 PM, Nov 20, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Is performing an abortion no different than pulling a tooth? The idea that there isn't a difference is the basis of a new federal bill that would wipe hundreds of state abortion laws off the books--striking down everything from late-term abortion limits to health and safety regulations in many states.


The Women's Health Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, would even invalidate a law used to convict Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year, and it could potentially force taxpayers across the country to directly fund elective abortions for Medicaid recipients.

"The basic principle is that there can be no restriction that is not also imposed on a medically comparable procedure. If they single out abortion or reproductive rights, it's going to fall foul," Blumenthal said at a November 13 press conference. Blumenthal told THE WEEKLY STANDARD following his remarks that it's "for doctors to decide" what counts as a "medically comparable" procedure.

Blumenthal specifically condemned health and safety regulations requiring that an abortion “doctor have admitting privileges" at a hospital "or that the hallways in a clinic be a certain width, which has no relation to health or safety."

Top officials at leading abortion rights organizations joined Blumenthal on November 13 in denouncing such health and safety regulations, which states like Texas and Pennsylvania passed in response to the deaths of women in abortion clinics like the one run by Gosnell in Philadelphia.

Alexis McGill Johnson, chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, likened health and safety abortion regulations to Jim Crow laws.

"As a black woman who was raised in the backdrop of civil rights movement and the woman's movement, when I see politicians roll back access to basic health care for women, what I’m seeing really are the poll taxes and literacy tests that existed more than fifty years ago," Johnson said at the press conference.

"Women can make our own decisions freely and privately with our families and our gods," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL. "This is mainstream."

In reality, the Democrats' new abortion bill is anything but mainstream. It would invalidate state laws passed in more than a dozen states, most recently in Texas, that would ban most abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy--laws that garner strong support in national polling. It would abolish laws requiring a 24-hour waiting period prior to obtaining an abortion--measures that Americans back nationally by a 41-point margin, according to Gallup. It would strike down laws requiring that abortionists inform women of alternatives to abortion, measures that Americans support by a 77-point margin, according to Gallup.

In fact, the Democrats' new abortion bill is so radical it would lead to the invalidation of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act--a law, which has been on the books since 1989, that was used to convict Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year. In addition to being convicted on three counts of murder for killing infants after they had been born, Gosnell was convicted under the Abortion Control Act for successfully killing 21 infants in utero past Pennsylvania’s gestational limit on abortion (a limit that's just two weeks later in pregnancy than the limit established recently by Texas).

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email that Blumenthal's bill "would invalidate nearly every provision of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, including the prohibition on performing abortion after 24 weeks except in acute medical circumstances, which was used to prosecute Gosnell.  Abortion until birth would be explicitly protected, as long as a single physician asserts that it would protect 'health,' including emotional health."

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