In addition to possibly overturning state abortion laws, the bill in question-which has 215 cosponsors in the House and 42 cosponsors in the Senate- could also override conscience protections for medical professionals. The bill would require a health care entity to provide abortions, if any delay to do so is deemed unsafe by a doctor or nurse, or the mother-without sufficient protections for conscience or religious-based objections.
Additionally, the bill would "supercede" all federal laws "notwithstanding" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), meaning that health care professionals or hospitals that object to providing abortions on religious or conscience grounds would not have recourse to religious freedom protections like RFRA.
The bill's text does allow for states to defend their safety regulations of abortion, but demands that the evidence must be "clear and convincing" that the state law "significantly advances the safety of abortion services or the health of patients." Also, it requires that patient safety "cannot be advanced by a less restrictive alternative measures or action."
The Charlotte Lozier Institute says the bill would impose "a heightened burden of proof" on state laws that even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute has termed "unusually strict."
In addition to Collett, witnesses who testified before the committee on Wednesday was Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
Forney highlighted the work of groups serving post-abortive women, who often experience nightmares, depression, eating disorders, suicidal feelings or attempts, addiction, and low self-esteem, he said, calling their suffering a testament to the destructive nature of abortion. She singled out the work of Rachel's Vineyard, which provides more than 1,000 retreats for post-abortive women each year in 49 states and 70 countries.
"If abortion is no big deal, why are all these people going through healing programs?" Forney asked.
While abortion supporters might argue that state and local laws are reducing the number of abortion clinics statewide, Collett said that 54% of counties in the U.S. have no hospitals with obstetric services.
"That is an outrage. If you were really concerned about women's health, that would be your primary concern," she said.
The bill says abortion is "central to women's ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States."
Yet abortions have declined by more than 50% from 1991-2016, she said, as the participation of women in the workforce has been "largely steady."
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"Women are succeeding in this society while abortion rates are falling rapidly," she said.