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Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed the Supreme Court's "cowardly, dark-of-night decision" to allow Texas' ban on most abortions to remain in place on Thursday, vowing to pass the Women's Health Protection Act when the House returns from recess.

Why it matters: The bill would "enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America," Pelosi said, codifying Roe v. Wade. The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, however, where it is unlikely to have enough votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster.

The big picture: The Texas law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant. It makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.

  • The law is the most restrictive abortion ban in 50 years, since the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade in 1973, legalizing abortion nationwide. It also offers at least $10,000 to citizens who successfully sue any person assisting pregnant people with getting abortions that violate the ban.
  • Earlier Thursday, President Biden called the law "an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights," and vowed to launch a "whole-of-government" effort to protect access to safe and legal abortion in the state.

What they're saying: "SB8 delivers catastrophe to women in Texas, particularly women of color and women from low-income communities. Every woman, everywhere has the constitutional right to basic health care," Pelosi said in a statement, referring to the name of the GOP-sponsored abortion law.

  • “SB8 unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented and far-reaching assaults on health care providers – and on anyone who helps a woman, in any way, access an abortion – by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect on the provision of any reproductive health care services," she continued.
  • "This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman’s right to health care but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target."

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Appeals court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate

A health worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APhotografia/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an emergency request to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The mandate, which Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced in August, requires health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face losing their jobs.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

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