The US House of Representatives has passed HR 8296, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which seeks to preserve the right to give and receive abortions without state-imposed restrictions.
Under the bill, passed on Friday, states cannot prohibit any particular abortion procedure before fetal viability. Patients cannot be required to give their health care provider a reason for their abortion. States cannot force a health care provider to perform specific tests before an abortion, unless generally required for medical procedures. States cannot force health care providers to give the patient medically inaccurate information prior to an abortion. And finally, states cannot prohibit health care providers from prescribing abortion drugs in person or via telemedicine.
The bill also lists several factors of consideration for courts to use when determining whether a state law impedes access to abortion. The factors include whether the law impedes or delays a health care provider from rendering abortion services, increases the costs of receiving an abortion, imposes a penalty, or forces women to travel to a facility that otherwise would not be necessary.
If a state law impedes abortion access, the state must establish that it significantly advances the patient’s safety and there is no less restrictive alternative measure.
The bill comes as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The bill quotes the dissenting opinion of now-former Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, stating that “one result of [the] decision is certain; the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate for a vote on final passage.