Congress Is Voting On A Dangerous Women’s Health Bill You Need To Know About

With just one week left in session before closing for a seven-week vacation, our GOP-led Congress decided to celebrate these last days, as it so often does, with aggressive attacks on women’s health. Anti-choice House members scheduled the Conscience Protection Act for a Wednesday floor vote, and it’s worth noting all the terrifying ways it could affect women around the country, just casually trying to lead healthy lives and make their own choices about their bodies.

The Conscience Protection Act would give health care providers “claiming to protect religious liberty” the right “to refuse patient access to critical reproductive health services, including abortion,” according to the National Women’s Law Center. It “would even allow an administrative assistant to refuse to schedule you for an appointment if he disagreed with your choice to have an abortion,” according to a press release by the NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Additionally, the Conscience Protection Act would require the Department of Justice to waste its time “investigat[ing] complaints alleging discrimination based on an individual’s religious belief, moral conviction, or refusal to be involved in an abortion.” Basically, conservatives are casting their infringements on women’s constitutional rights as practicing freedom of religion, so what’s new?

This is all part of an overarching trend in which GOP lawmakers try to portray efforts to attack women’s or gay people’s rights as the benign act of practicing freedom of religion and First Amendment rights. The suggestion that letting women have abortions or access basic reproductive healthcare is a matter of the conscience implies that abortion is inherently some immoral act, and not the safe, standard medical procedure that it is. The act’s title further implies that women seeking abortions don’t have consciences or are incapable of thinking through their own decisions about their bodies.

Characterizing abortion as immoral and tantamount to killing the unborn and drawing literally zero distinctions between embryos and infants in graphic propaganda has inspired all kinds of violent retaliation against women and abortion providers who are cast as murderers. Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter, literally claimed he was attempting to protect “the babies,” most likely influenced by the dangerous rhetoric of anti-choice politicians. Let’s get one thing straight: the Constitution, which conservatives so often claim to live by, marks personhood as when you’re born — a fetus can’t inherit property.

Meanwhile, pregnant women who can’t or don’t want to be pregnant are very much persons, and it’s time for us to stop prioritizing an ignorant ideology over their rights, health, safety, and humanity.

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CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images

At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of evidence that if passed, this act wouldn’t help GOP lawmakers with their ultimate goal of creating an abortion-free society. Restricting access to and discouraging abortion through dangerous mischaracterizations isn’t going to make it happen any less — study after study, and most recently, data from Texas about rates of abortion under heavily restrictive laws, corroborate this fact.