Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are planning to utilize a rare procedural maneuver next week to force Republicans to go on the record about codifying abortion rights, despite being the minority party.
Pro-Choice Caucus Chairs Diana DeGette, D-CO, and Barbara Lee, D-CA, will file a discharge petition on the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which would force a vote on the abortion legislation if they can get a majority of members to sign it, DeGette’s office said in a press release. Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, the sponsor of the bill, also intends to join the petition.
“The Women’s Health Protection Act, which was approved by the House twice last Congress, would restore the protections that were in place under Roe v. Wade by codifying a nationwide right to abortion care. Poll after poll shows that more than two-thirds of the country supports women’s right to abortion care,” DeGette’s office said.
It continued: “DeGette, Lee and Chu are hoping there are, at least, six Republicans who will be willing to listen to the people of their district and help restore their right to reproductive care.”
With 211 Democratic members already supporting a vote on the legislation, the lawmakers will need some help from their Republican peers to get to the 218-vote threshold.
“The trio has been working closely with Democratic leadership to make the legislation a priority to help countless Americans who are suffering as a result of the GOP abortion bans that are now in place in several states across the country,” DeGette’s office said.
Democratic lawmakers attempted to use a discharge petition to push a clean debt limit bill through the chamber, but negotiators ultimately came to an agreement before they could convince enough Republicans to join them.
The current discharge petition could pressure moderate Republicans, especially in swing districts, to go on the record.
Democrats pushed the Women’s Health Protection Act after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
The Supreme Court striking down the 1973 decision returned the legality of abortion to the state level.
The bill reads, “A health care provider has a right under this Act to provide abortion services, and a patient has a corresponding right under this Act to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability without being subject to state limitations.”
The bill would also authorize post-viability abortions when “in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, it is necessary to protect the life or health of the patient.”
Reaching the signature threshold of 218 would not immediately trigger a vote on the bill.
At least seven legislative days have to pass after the petition received 218 signatures before it can come up for a vote.
The Women’s Health Protection Act cleared the House in Sept. 2021, almost entirely along party lines, 218 – 211. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. Three members did not vote.
Fox News’ Tyler Olsen contributed to this report.