Congressional Republicans have introduced a flurry of anti-abortion bills on Friday as crowds of rally-goers gathered for the 50th March for Life—the first rally since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—in Washington D.C.
GOP lawmakers introduced three new bills seeking to limit access to abortion in both the House and the Senate on Friday. One targets the use of telehealth for abortion pills, the second prevents the abortion of babies with Down syndrome, and the third is aimed at higher education institutions that provide abortion services to students. The first two bills would establish criminal penalties for abortion providers.
In the wake of last summer’s Dobbs decision, Republicans across the nation have rushed to pass legislation that would limit access to abortion services, while Democrats have scrambled to codify the right to an abortion.
Friday would have marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark ruling in Roe had SCOTUS’ conservative majority not ended the federal constitutional right to abortion last year.
Although those rights were rolled back, anti-abortion advocates continued to descend onto the nation’s capital this year to look ahead to the “next steps” of the movement. The theme of this year’s rally is “Next Steps: Marching Forward into a Post-Roe America.”
“Abortion is always wrong under any circumstance but allowing women to have chemical abortions alone without ever being physically examined is outright dangerous,” Representative Bob Good, who introduced the Teleabortion Prevention Act aimed at restricting prescriptions for abortion pills, tweeted on Friday.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by 25 of Good’s Republican colleagues, would require those seeking an abortion pill to undergo a physical examination, take the pill at the clinic and attend a follow-up visit.
A provider who does not comply with the requirements would face a fine and/or a prison term of up to two years, but patients would not be prosecuted. It provides exceptions where the mother’s life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, injury or condition.
According to a 2020 analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion pill accounts for more than half (53 percent) of all abortions in the U.S. In 2017, the pill had only accounted for 37 percent of total abortions.
Republican-led anti-abortion bills have received pushback from Democrats and even some GOP legislators, who are warning their colleagues that their legislation falls out of line from what the American people, namely GOP voters, want.
In an appearance on MSNBC earlier this month, Republican congresswoman Nancy Mace said, “If we’re going to get serious about saving lives… we have to have legislation that will pass a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House,” like providing access to birth control.
“We’re racing to the fringes,” Mace said. “I have a colleague in the House right now that wants to bring a bill to the floor that bans all abortions with no exceptions. What are we doing here? That’s not where 90% of the country is. Especially Republicans.”
On Friday, Senator Steve Daines and Representative Chip Roy also introduced the Protecting Life on College Campus Act and the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act in their respective chambers.
The first piece of legislation would prohibit higher education institutions that host or are affiliated with abortion clinics aimed at students or university employees from receiving federal funds.
“A college dorm room is no place to have a do-it-yourself abortion, and the American taxpayer should not be paying for the destruction of innocent human life on our college campuses,” Roy told The Daily Signal.
The Brookings Institute has warned that the rollback on abortion rights would create several new challenges for colleges and universities, including the services provided on campus.
While there is little data on student abortions, the institute estimated that based on demographically-adjusted abortion rates, there are roughly 300 to 500 students at California’s public universities who have abortions via the pill per month. That projection is even higher among community college students, whose rate is between 800 to 1,000 a month.
“Every life is created with God-given dignity and potential—no matter how small or how many chromosomes they may have,” Daines tweeted. “I’ll always fight to protect young moms and their unborn children from the violence of abortion.”
The Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act would make it illegal for a doctor to knowingly perform an abortion that is being sought because a baby may have Down syndrome, which results from a chromosomal irregularity, and prohibits anyone from forcing the mother of such a baby from having an abortion because of the genetic disorder.
A person who violates the law would be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment of up to five years, but the mother would not be prosecuted.
While there are no official figures on how many abortions have been made based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, a 2012 medical study estimates the rate to be 67 percent. About one in every 700 babies in the U.S. are born with the condition, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.