US House passes bills to protect abortion access, Senate approval unlikely

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The US House of Representatives adopted two bills on Friday aimed at protecting access to abortion after the Supreme Court ruled that individual states can ban or restrict the procedure.

The legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House is unlikely, however, to advance in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to bring the measures to the floor.

"Just three weeks ago, the Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to fundamental rights by overturning Roe v. Wade," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, referring to the landmark case that enshrined legal access to abortion.

"That is why today, our pro-choice, pro-women Democratic majority stands resolute," Pelosi said. "We will take further action to defend women's reproductive freedom."

The first bill, the "Women's Health Protection Act," adopted only with Democratic support, would legalize abortion throughout the United States.

The House passed a similar bill last year but it failed in the Senate.

The other bill adopted on Friday would provide legal protection to women who leave one state to undergo an abortion in another.

Several conservative states have already banned abortion since the Supreme Court ruling, and about half of the 50 US states are expected to impose near or total bans in weeks or months to come.

Democratic President Joe Biden denounced last month's abortion ruling by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court and has urged Americans to turn out in large numbers to vote in November's midterm elections.

The party in power tends to perform poorly in the midterms, however, and Democrats risk losing their majority in the House and their slim hold on the Senate.

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