HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: House, Senate Tee Up Doomed Abortion Bills
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Democrats are lining up votes on a host of bills this year to protect the right to abortion, trying to showcase the potential wide-reaching effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the decades-old precedent of Roe v Wade.
The Senate today will attempt to tee up a bill that would block states from restricting women from traveling out of state to get an abortion. Leadership will try to pass the measure through unanimous consent, though it’s all but a doomed effort amid broad GOP opposition. The House will hold a vote on a similar bill (H.R. 8297) shielding out-of-state travel tomorrow, as well as another (H.R. 8296) that would broadly enshrine the right to an abortion into US law, although neither are expected to pass the Senate.
“We’re going to show to the American people that there are legislative fixes to this very extreme Supreme Court and there’s one party prepared to protect the freedoms of the American people,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said.
BGOV Bill Summaries:
- H.R. 8296, Enshrining Access to Abortion Services
- H.R. 8297, Protecting Abortion Travel Out of State
There is one bipartisan effort to find common ground: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he’s in talks with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—the only supporters of abortion rights among Senate Republicans—on a bill to codify some basic abortion protections into law.
But Murkowski and Collins both voted against a bill (S. 4132) earlier this year to establish a federal protection for abortion rights, saying it went too far.
In a brief interview, Kaine said the group is trying to “establish a minimum federal guarantee of reproductive freedom.” He said that minimum would reflect the environment before the Supreme Court’s most recent decision, where states were not allowed to prohibit all abortion services, but may impose some restrictions after early pregnancy.
He said he believes such a bill can secure a majority in the Senate—though it wouldn’t be enough in a chamber that requires 60 votes for most bills. But he said, importantly, it would reflect a middle ground on what Americans want.
Lawmakers Urge Abortion Emergency Declaration: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) led a group of 83 lawmakers in urging the administration to issue a national emergency and public health emergency declaration on abortion access, and invoke the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. Read their letter here.
- Meanwhile, prosecutors refusing to enforce anti-abortion laws and voters campaigning to put reproductive rights on the ballot are just some of the efforts being taken to defend abortion rights statewide, lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee heard during testimony Wednesday. Read more from Jalen Brown.
ABORTION RIGHTS AT THE STATE LEVEL:
- Abortion providers in Louisiana can reopen, after a state court yet again blocked the state from enforcing laws that ban almost all abortions following the Supreme Court decision. The case is one of several recently filed in state courts to invalidate abortions restrictions under state laws, as well as state constitutions that explicitly protect privacy rights. Mary Anne Pazanowski has more.
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order blocking the extradition of criminal abortion crime suspects to other states in a bid to make Michigan a refuge for abortion services travel. Read more from Alex Ebert.
- Michigan voters will decide this fall whether the state will preserve the right to legal abortions after a coalition of reproductive rights groups collected more than enough signatures to put the question on the November ballot. Read more from David Welch.
INDUSTRY & REGULATORY RESPONSES:
- Confusion among emergency room doctors remains even after the White House clarified this week that federal law allowing abortions in life-or-death situations trumps all restrictions a state may have on the procedure. The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has rattled physicians across the US who now must decide when abortions should be performed under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Read more from Tony Pugh.
- A lack of clarity over prescribing a common arthritis drug post-Roe is prompting demands for state guidance as pharmacies grapple with the Supreme Court decision. Patient reports of delays or roadblocks in accessing methotrexate have risen on social media since the ruling. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.
- Pharmacists who refuse to fill medications for miscarriage management may also be violating federal anti-sex discrimination laws, the HHS said in guidance Wednesday. The guidance applies to about 60,000 retail pharmacies across the US that receive federal financial assistance, including through Medicare and Medicaid. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.
- A French drugmaker wants to make its contraceptive the first of its kind for sale in America—an over-the-counter birth-control product that would bring the US up to speed with over 100 countries that make them accessible without prescriptions. Read more from Ella Ceron.
- Vows by Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash to cover abortion travel for employees stops short of including the thousands of drivers, shoppers, and delivery staff who make up the majority of their workforce. Read more from Courtney Rozen.
Also Happening on the Hill
Thursday’s Hill Hearings:
- The House Judiciary Committee holds a Thursday hearing on the legal implications of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s abortion access protections.
- The House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee holds a Thursday hearing on expanding community care access under the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- BGOV Calendar: See the full list of hearings and events this week.
Burr Slams US Response to Monkeypox: Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) blasted the Biden administration’s response to the outbreak of monkeypox, and called again for the creation of a new federal office to deal specifically with pandemics. Read more from Madison Muller.
Aid for Toxin-Exposed Veterans Passed by House After Tax Fix: Legislation to expand health-care coverage for burn pit-exposed veterans passed the House on a 342-88 vote Wednesday. The bill, an amended version of S. 3373, would expand healthcare eligibility to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxins. Read more from Mia McCarthy.
What Else to Know Today
FDA Authorizes Novavax Covid Vaccine: Novavax’s Covid vaccine was cleared by US regulators. The Food and Drug Administration’s nod makes Novavax’s the first shot authorized for adults that mimics the protein that the coronavirus uses to enter cells. Read more from Fiona Rutherford.
Teva Cites ‘Havoc’ in Taking Case to SCOTUS: Teva Pharmaceuticals is taking a long-running battle over generic labeling to the US Supreme Court, asking the justices to hear a case that could have broader ramifications on the cost of medicine. Read more from Ian Lopez and Alexis Kramer.
- Kentucky Health Providers Seek Supreme Court Review of Need Law
- Covid Tests Must Be ‘Business Necessity’ in Change For Employers
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