Democrats fail to codify abortion rights in US Senate

Democrats fail to codify abortion rights in US Senate

The Senate failed in a 49-51 vote to codify abortion rights Wednesday afternoon in a bill that even some moderate abortion rights supporters said went too far.

The bill was expected to fail but gave Democrats a chance to put on a public display of support for abortion rights -even Vice President Kamala Harris showed up to the Capitol to preside over the vote.

A group of fired-up female members of the House Progressive Caucus marched toward the Senate side chanting ‘my body, my decision’ as the upper chamber voted on the House-passed bill.

The bill would have needed 60 votes, 10 from Republicans, to pass, but failed to garner even a simple majority as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted against it, as did pro-choice Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan Collins, Maine. Murkowski and Collins had submitted their own more narrow bill to codify abortion rights, the Reproductive Choice Act, but Schumer refused to put it up for a vote.

‘We’re going to be voting on a piece of legislation, which I will not vote for today.,’ Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

‘But I would vote for a Roe v. Wade codification if it was today – I was hopeful for that,’ the West Virginia Democrat assured. ‘But I found out yesterday in caucus that wasn’t going to be and you probably heard of that by now.’

In a show-vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to file cloture to stop Republicans filibustering the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Schumer knew he didn’t have the votes needed to make the landmark abortion case federal law but he wanted to put anti-abortion lawmakers on the record and give Democrats a pro-choice vote to take home ahead of the midterm elections.

Schumer ahead of the vote claimed that his GOP colleagues were ‘hellbent on sending women’s rights back to the stoneage’ and said the public ‘will not forget’ at election time.

The attempt comes after Democrats tried to get the same bill through in February, but the measure has more urgency now that a Supreme Court leak shows a draft opinion that would overturn 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion constitutionally protected.

President Biden condemned the bill’s failure in a statement after the vote, but dangled a potential future passing of the bill in front of voters ahead of midterm elections.

‘Senate Republicans have blocked passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that affirmatively protects access to reproductive health care. This failure to act comes at a time when women’s constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack – and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people,’ Biden said.

‘To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House. If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.’

 Harris expressed a similar sentiment. ‘This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue,’ she told reporters after the vote. ‘The priority is to elect pro-choice leaders.’

The vice president ignored shouted questions on why Democrats didn’t pursue a more moderate bill with Murkowski and Collins.

Murkowski said in a statement ahead of the vote that the Women’s Health Protection Act was billed as a way to ‘codify Roe v. Wade’ but ‘in reality goes much further—nullifying state and religious freedom laws across the country in the process.’

Murkowski noted that the bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal dollars from funding abortion, does not include conscience protections for healthcare providers who do not wish to perform abortions due to their religious beliefs and ‘allows late-term abortions without any notable restrictions.’

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