WASHINGTON — House Democrats plan Friday to push through broad legislation to uphold abortion rights, taking urgent action after a major Supreme Court setback as they brace for a ruling next year that could further roll back access to abortion nationwide.
The House vote will be largely symbolic given that the bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, has little chance of advancing because of Republican opposition in the Senate. But House Democrats’ decision to consider it reflects their view that the issue could resonate strongly in the midterm elections next year, particularly if female voters see the Supreme Court action as a threat to rights that many believed had been long settled.
Democrats moved swiftly to schedule action on the measure after the court refused this month to block a Texas law that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of gestation. It would guarantee the right to abortion through federal law, preempting hundreds of state laws governing the procedure. Democrats argue that it would codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
The court is set to rule next year on a Mississippi law that severely restricts abortions.
“It became very evident that we needed to have something that would push back against all these state restrictions,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the lead author of the measure. “We could see that change was possible at the Supreme Court, and we knew we had to make sure that Roe v. Wade was protected.”
But opponents of the law — including some Republicans who have supported abortion rights — argue that it would go far beyond the landmark court precedent, stripping states of much of their ability to regulate abortion and impose measures intended to make the procedure safe. They say it would lead to many more abortions in the late stages of pregnancy.
Democratic backers of the measure say they are confident they have the support to win approval in the House, which has not previously voted on it. But the Democratic-led Senate might not take up the bill, which appears to be just short of majority support in that chamber.
The Biden administration, pointing to the new Texas legislation, supports the bill.