Bill protecting abortion rights fails to advance in Senate

·2 min read

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Wednesday against advancing a bill that would have codified abortion rights into federal law.

Senators voted 49-51, with one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joining Senate Republicans to block the measure — far short of the 60 votes that were needed to end a Republican filibuster.

The measure was never expected to pass the Senate. However, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought up the measure — about a week after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed the high court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade — in an attempt to highlight the issue in the 2022 midterm elections.

Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrives at the Capitol for a procedural vote on the Women's Health Protection Act on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

“The vote we just took makes clear the contrast between the parties as we approach the midterm elections,” said Schumer, D-N.Y., after the vote. “Elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to see a woman have control over her own body. … Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested.”

Vice President Kamala Harris attended Wednesday’s Senate vote and echoed Schumer’s call for voters to elect more Democrats in November.

Senate Republican leaders said their opposition to the measure was built on Democrats’ “radical” plans for abortion access.

“Today I voted to protect life,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “Democrats once again declared their support for unlimited, on-demand abortions up until the moment of birth. The Democrats’ radical bill would have even forced Wyoming taxpayers to fund abortions nationwide regardless of their personal beliefs.”

Wednesday’s vote was largely viewed as symbolic, more about putting lawmakers on record on the issue ahead of the midterm elections, which will decide control of the House and Senate.

Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to the media after the vote failed to pass the Senate. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Shortly before Wednesday’s vote, a group of Democratic House lawmakers marched across the second floor of the Capitol, from the House chamber to the Senate, to support the measure.

In the run-up to the vote, progressive Democrats in the Senate, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, pushed for ending the Senate filibuster to advance the measure.

But even if the Senate bill had passed, it would have faced a similarly difficult road in the House, where Democrats hold the slimmest of majorities and a number of anti-abortion Democrats fill the party’s ranks.

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