Abortion Rights Legislation Is Stalled in the Senate by the Republican Majority and Manchin
Senate Republicans, joined by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), vetoed legislation on Wednesday that would have enshrined abortion safeguards in law ahead of a likely ruling by a conservative-majority Supreme Court this summer overturning the Roe v. Wade decision.
Democrats fell short of getting the bill passed, which was billed as a method to enshrine Roe v. Wade, which secures the right to abortion, into law. It needs 60 votes to proceed.
After a leaked draught ruling last week revealed the Supreme Court was set to overrule its landmark 1973 decision on abortion rights, the projected conclusion is likely to elicit strong emotions.
Democrats have cautioned that the decision will yank away a right that millions of people have enjoyed for nearly half a century, with the negative consequences landing disproportionately on the poor.
“Today’s vote is one of the most important we’ll have in decades because for the first time in 50 years, a conservative majority — an extreme majority — on the Supreme Court is on the verge of declaring that women have no control over their own bodies, one of the court’s longest steps back in history; a decision that, if implemented, will go down as one of the worst court decisions ever.
” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared, “The name of this decision will live in infamy.”
Vice President Harris was in attendance, emphasizing the importance of the vote for Democrats. Earlier Wednesday, around two dozen House Democrats, marched across to the Senate floor, saying, “My body, my choice.”
Republicans contended that the Senate bill went further on abortion rights than most Americans would want, encroaching on religious liberty and state regulations.
“Our Democratic colleagues want to support abortion on demand for the entire nine months until the baby is born. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “A failed show vote will simply illustrate their own radicalism.”
Democrats are hoping that outrage about the prospect of substantially curtailing abortion rights would serve as a rallying cry for their voters during the midterm elections.
After the unsuccessful vote, Schumer anticipated the Democratic response.
“Elect more MAGA Republicans,” Schumer said after the vote, “if you want to see a nationwide prohibition on abortion if you want to see physicians and women imprisoned if you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest.”
“Americans passionately reject repealing Roe, and they will be paying close attention to Republicans who are responsible for its destruction from now until November,” he stated.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee published its first commercial in response to the Supreme Court decision, saying that a Republican-controlled Senate would seek to ban abortions nationally and restrict birth control access.
Republicans dismissed Democratic claims that voters may force them to pay in November, suggesting that inflation is more likely to be a problem.
“I don’t believe we regard it as a difficult decision.” Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), the caucus’s two Republicans who support abortion rights, told The Hill that they don’t see it as a difficult vote.
Murkowski, Collins, and Manchin, the Senate’s three swing votes, all voted against the Democratic bill.
To some extent, Manchin backed up the GOP concerns, saying the plan on the floor went too far.
“We’re going to vote on a piece of legislation that I will not be voting for today,” Manchin said prior to the vote to reporters. “However, if it were today, I would vote for a Roe v. Wade codification.” I was hoping for that, but I found out in caucus yesterday that that wasn’t going to happen.”
For years, the Senate’s battle lines on abortion rights have been apparent. However, the leaked text, as reported by Politico, rekindled a firestorm on Capitol Hill that has primarily dominated senators’ conversations in the week afterward.
Chief Justice John Roberts recognized the draft’s validity in a statement but stressed it did not represent the court’s final word.
According to reports, four additional conservative justices on the court are prepared to vote with Justice Samuel Alito, the draught opinion’s author, to overturn Roe v. Wade regardless of Roberts’ decision. The decision, as well as which judges voted in favor of it, will not be definitive until it is made public.
A majority of voters support Roe’s upholding, according to several polls, providing Democrats an opening on the subject.
In a -YouGov poll, 64% of respondents believed the Supreme Court should leave the matter alone. Similarly, 66 percent of CNN survey respondents believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.
Democrats tweaked the bill from an earlier version that failed in the Senate earlier this year in order to boost support within their own party.
Democrats removed a nonbinding conclusions section that, among other things, termed abortion restrictions “an instrument of gender oppression” and perpetuated “white supremacy.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, the bill would bar governments from restricting a health care provider’s authority to prescribe specific medications or from preventing health care professionals from delivering urgent abortion services if a delay would endanger a patient’s health.
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It also prohibits governments from asking patients to undergo “medically unnecessary in-person visits” prior to an abortion, as well as requiring patients to divulge their reasons for seeking an abortion.
The bill also prohibits governments from implementing legislation that “singles out the provision of abortion services, health care practitioners who offer abortion services, or facilities where abortion services are performed” and “impedes access to abortion services.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) stated last week that he would support the bill’s substance, which is a triumph for Democrats.
However, Manchin, who had previously voted against the bill, remained opposed.
Democrats say the struggle will continue, but it’s unclear where it will go next. To achieve abortion rights, some progressives are calling for the Senate to create a carveout or repeal the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most bills.
However, Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also repeated their support for the filibuster earlier this month.
Democrats who led the months-long debate over rules changes said a filibuster reform has not been discussed within the caucus as a way to respond to the draught Supreme Court ruling.
“Everyone’s position is very much set… Senator Tim Kaine remarked, “I haven’t actually heard that as a matter of discussion in caucus sessions” (D-Va.).
Kaine and Collins are in early talks to see if they can work out a compromise plan to codify Roe, though they both cautioned that they aren’t close to drafting a bill.
However, given the severe divisions in the Senate over abortion, a compromise, if they can achieve one, may struggle to get 60 votes. The Supreme Court would then have the final say, followed by states around the country. Thirteen states have so-called trigger legislation that would immediately prohibit abortion.
“The regrettable reality is that in the absence of Roe, 26 additional states are poised to prohibit abortion rights,” stated Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “What are these states’ women to do?”