Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promised federal abortion legislation as she reacted to Texas’ Heartbeat Act Thursday, saying the new law creates a “vigilante bounty system.”
“The Supreme Court’s cowardly, dark-of-night decision to uphold a flagrantly unconstitutional assault on women’s rights and health is staggering,” Pelosi said in a statement. “That this radically partisan Court chose to do so without a full briefing, oral arguments or providing a full, signed opinion is shameful.”
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 late Wednesday night to deny abortion providers’ requests to block Texas’ new law banning abortion after 6 weeks.
Pelosi argued in her statement that the new law “delivers catastrophe to women in Texas, particularly women of color and women from low-income communities,” and promised that the House will bring up Democratic California Rep. Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act to “enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America.”
“Every woman, everywhere has the constitutional right to basic health care,” she said. “SB8 is the most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century, and its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade, and even refuses to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest. This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade.”
The new law has particularly angered abortion advocates as it allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”
Those who sue over an abortion may be awarded $10,000 “for each abortion” the defendant performed, induced, aided, or abetted in violation of the law.
Pelosi said this aspect of the law creates a “vigilante bounty system” that she called one of the most “disturbing, unprecedented and far-reaching assaults on health care providers,” predicting that it will have a “chilling effect on the provision of any reproductive health care services.”
“This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman’s right to health care but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target,” she said.
The Supreme Court will begin hearing Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in October, one of the first major abortion case in which all three of former President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice appointees participate, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who gained a seat on the court after a contentious confirmation process in October 2020.
Quoting Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in the Wednesday decision, Pelosi urged the court to uphold “its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law” when it takes up Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
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Mary Margaret Olohan on September 2, 2021