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US House passes measures to protect access to abortion countrywide

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By Euronews  with AP
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Pro-choice activists and Democratic Representatives gather ahead of the vote on the steps of the Capitol
Pro-choice activists and Democratic Representatives gather ahead of the vote on the steps of the Capitol   -   Copyright  Andrew Harnik/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The US House of Representatives has voted to restore access to abortion with two bills in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Women's Health Protection Act which passed 219 votes to 210 would restore abortion bans in 50 States, prevent bans on abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy, and allow exceptions for abortions when the provider determines the life or health of the mother is at risk.

This is the second time the House has passed the bill, which would expand on the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.

The lower chamber also passed a second bill, the Ensuring Women's Rights to Reproductive Freedom Act, protecting those who travel to another state to seek termination.

While the bill has little chance of becoming law, the measures highlight the Democrats' efforts to protect abortion rights as lawmakers grapple with the court's decision.

However, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has stressed these largely symbolic bills need to be approved by the evenly divided Senate before they become law.

She called on Americans to take to the polls in November to eliminate the filibuster so that Democratic senators could pass the bills with a simple majority.

"Just three weeks ago, the Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to fundamental rights by overturning Roe v Wade. It is outrageous that 50 years later, women must again fight for our most basic rights against an extremist court and the Republican Party," she announced on the Capitol steps.

"But we must ensure that the American people remember in November because with two more Democratic senators, we will be able to eliminate the filibuster when it comes to a woman's right to choose and to make reproductive freedom the law of the land, the law of the land".

While President Joe Biden's approval ratings have hit an all-time low, pro-choice activists say they want the White House to do more to protect reproductive rights.

Just last week, thousands of protesters dressed in green marched on the capital in the pouring rain chanting, "We won't go back".