1 of 6 | Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats hold a press conference ahead of the passage of the Women's Health Protection Act and the Ensuring Women's Right to Reproductive Freedom Act on the House East Front steps at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
July 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. House on Friday approved a pair of bills codifying Roe vs. Wade into law and protecting people traveling out of state to obtain an abortion after last month's Supreme Court ruling set off trigger laws in some states further restricting the procedure.
The lawmakers voted 219-210 to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would make the 1973 landmark ruling in the abortion case Roe vs. Wade law. All Republicans voted against the legislation.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs. Wade ruling June 24, ending the federally protected right to have an abortion. Several states, including Texas, had so-called abortion trigger laws on the books so that in the case that Roe vs. Wade was overturned, stricter abortion laws -- or bans -- immediately went into effect.
The House also voted 223-205 in favor of the Ensuring Women's Right to Reproductive Freedom Act. This bill would protect a person's right to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion if it's banned in their own state.
In the days immediately following the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, President Joe Biden pledged to implement a federal law protecting people who travel out of state for abortion care. He predicted some states would try to make such travel illegal.
"People are going to be shocked when the first state ... tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services," he said during a meeting with governors on July 1.
"I don't think people believe that's going to happen. But it's going to happen and it's going to telegraph to the whole country that this is a gigantic deal that goes beyond, I mean, it affects all your basic rights."
Neither bill is expected to pass the Senate, where they would require a 60-vote supermajority. The chamber is split evenly and can only achieve a simple majority with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaker.
The House also approved the WHPA in September but the Senate failed to pass it at the time.
The American Civil Liberties Union praised the House votes Friday.
"These bills are crucial to ensure that people across the U.S. can access the essential abortion care they need," the organization said in a statement.
"We all deserve the right to decide if and when to have a child. It's long past time for federal safeguards protecting everyone's ability to access abortion care, no matter where we live."
Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn., said the legislation passed by the House on Friday was a "deceptive ploy to circumvent the authority of states to set their own laws about abortion procedures."