US senators introduce bipartisan bill to codify abortion rights
© WikiMedia (Charles Edward Miller)
US senators introduce bipartisan bill to codify abortion rights

A bipartisan group of Senators Tuesday proposed legislation Tuesday to codify the right to abortion, formally established in Roe v. Wade, in federal law. The bill is sponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and is the first senatorial proposal to have broad bipartisan support.

The Reproductive Freedom For All Act is a response to the recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, making room for state abortion bans and limitations. According to polls from Pew Research, 61 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The proposed Reproductive Freedom for All Act would reinstate the “undue burden” test, originally derived from Casey, and would not allow state legislatures to impose any regulations that would present an “undue burden” to abortion access before the viability line. The act would explicitly allow abortions past the viability line in cases where the life of the pregnant person is at risk. The proposed legislation would also protect access to contraceptives, including Plan-B and morning-after pills. Controversially, the bill also includes protections for “conscience,” which would allow healthcare workers to deny abortion or refuse to recommend abortion care if they have a religious objection.

Senator Kaine celebrated the bill, saying it “would restore the right to abortion and protect access to contraception by enshrining those freedoms into federal legislation.” Senator Collins specifically raised concerns about the erosion of precedent, saying, “[t]he Supreme Court’s recent abandonment of long standing precedent erodes the reproductive rights on which women have relied for half a century. These basic rights need to be the same for American women regardless of the state in which they reside. “

It is unclear if the law will make it to the Senate floor for a vote, as it is unlikely to garner the necessary 60 votes to make it filibuster-proof.