Senate fails to introduce abortion rights bill

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats failed to advance a bill seeking to ensure women’s access to abortion, in a vote intended to set off a clear contrast to Republicans ahead of a possible Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. It looms just months before the midterm elections.

The vote was 49 in favor and 51 against, which is less than the 60 votes needed to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act.

The Democrats conceded that their bill would surely fail in the Senate from 50 to 50. Neither Republicans supported the measure, nor the centrist Democratic senator. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) had broken with his party and opposed the bill. But Democratic leaders see the vote as a critical policy step with the prospect of ending federal abortion protections now looming and shifting the matter to the states.

“I am more afraid and afraid for the women of this country than I have ever been,” the senator said. Patty Murray (D, Washington) shortly before the vote. If some states ban abortion, voters “live with the painful consequences of that decision and won’t forget that Republicans are responsible.”

Republicans said that in the event of Roe’s downfall, states should be held accountable for making decisions that affect their populations.

Senator. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) opposed the measure, saying the bill is not Roe v. Wade’s notation, it’s an expansion.


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“My hope is that the Supreme Court will return this issue to the people for discussion, opinion, and decision-making through their multiple elected representatives,” the senator said. John F. Kennedy (R, Los Angeles).

Before the vote, Senator. A self-described pro-life Democrat, Bob Casey (D., Pennsylvania) said he would support his party’s action to assert the right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus survives. It was a shift in his attitude and the master left. Manchin as the only Democrat who opposed the bill. Mr. Manchin said Wednesday he would support Roe’s legalization but the party’s proposal goes too far.

The bill “isn’t Roe v. Wade’s blogging, it’s an expansion,” he said.

Abortion access moved to the center of the political debate in the capital last week after Politico published a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court was willing to break with the precedent of establishing a constitutional right to abortion. The court is considering a Mississippi law banning abortion in the 15th week of pregnancy.

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The court confirmed the validity of the draft but cautioned that it was not final. The court is expected to issue its opinion in late June or early July.

Each side portrayed the other as holding extremist views that do not align with public opinion. Democrats say Republicans are seeking to ban all abortions, even early in pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest. Going forward, GOP lawmakers say Democrats favor rules that allow abortions to be performed at any time before childbirth, and many argue that it should be left to states.

“Democrats will push to allow de-powerment of states and draw a line here in Washington where late abortions will be the law of the country, and that’s very troubling to me,” the senator said. Steve Daines (R., Mont.), chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus.

If RO is repealed, many states have laws that could ban all or nearly all abortions, including some so-called operating laws that would take effect either automatically or with expedited state action. Other states have passed laws protecting access to abortion.

The Democrats bill would guarantee access to abortion until a fetus is viable, usually between 23 to 24 weeks, and repeal currently in place state laws that place restrictions on earlier dates. The bill would allow post-feasibility abortion when a health care provider determines that the pregnancy poses a risk to the patient’s life or health.

Republicans say the language gives so much leeway that a provider could offer a delayed abortion to protect a woman’s mental health. Among their other concerns is that viability could be determined by a doctor or other provider, and the bill specifically bypasses any conflicting state laws that impose restrictions.

Leaked draft of Roe v. Wade could change before he’s done. The Wall Street Journal explains how the Supreme Court makes decisions and what might follow if the right to abortion is repealed. Illustration: Jacob Reynolds

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said Tuesday that the bill was “particularly radical,” while adding that he believed most Republican senators favored a statewide abortion policy decision. He did not directly answer questions from reporters who asked if he would put a federal ban on the ground if Republicans won control of the Senate and White House.

Many Republicans have been vague about these predictions, dismissing questions by saying that any potential ban won’t be introduced in Congress until far into the future.

Opinion polls show complex opinions about abortion. A Pew Research Center survey in March found that 44% of the public believed that abortion should be legal in the first six weeks of pregnancy, compared to 21% who said it should be illegal and 19% who said it does. Support declines later in pregnancy: At the 14th week of pregnancy, 34% said abortion should be legal, and at the 24th week, only 22%.

“It’s important that we come up with a reasonable bill,” the centrist senator said. Susan Collins (R., Maine), who said she was discussing the settlement approach with the senator. Tim Kaine (D, Virginia).

Senator. Susan Collins of Maine, making her way through the Capitol Wednesday, discusses a settlement with a fellow Democrat.


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Ting Shen/Bloomberg News

Ms. Collins, who supports Roe, has proposed preventing states from imposing an “unreasonable burden” on a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable, and allowing states to impose restrictions after a fetus is viable unless termination of pregnancy is necessary to protect the woman. life. This approach is designed to preserve the status quo because the “unreasonable burden” criterion is part of the current Supreme Court’s precedent that arose from the 1992 opinion.

Mr. Ken said he approached Mrs. Collins over the weekend about a potential compromise, and that despite his support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, his failure to come forward on Wednesday could not be the last word. “This can’t be one and it has been done,” he said.

Senator. Jane Shaheen (D, NH) said that discussion with Ms. Collins is worthwhile, but Democrats still couldn’t get 60 votes to defeat the Republican stall. “People are very upset,” she said.

Senator. Mike Rounds (R.

“I think states should do that,” Mr. Tours said. In the end we will end up with something that looks like a national consensus. But it will take place one country after another.”

Wednesday’s vote is shaping up as an opening act, as midterm candidates embrace abortion positions in the absence of Roe and outside groups raising money to litigate the issue at the ballot box. The Democrats face a battle for control of the Senate by 50-50 and their slim majority in the House of Representatives, due to poor poll numbers for President Biden and the party.

Mehmet Oz, who is running as the Republican candidate for a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania, said on Twitter that he “looks forward to supporting pro-life legislation that saves innocent lives in the US Senate.”

Senator. Ron Johnson (R., Wes.), who is going to be re-elected, said he expected abortion to be non-existent in his campaign. He said he was not sure that a 19th century law in his state banning abortions except to save a mother’s life would come into effect if Roe fell, and that in any case people would still have options.

“It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going to go away,” he said, noting that driving across state lines into Illinois would likely be an option. “I don’t think that’s going to be the big political issue that everyone thinks it is, because it wouldn’t be that big of a change.”

write to Siobhan Hughes at siobhan.hughes@wsj.com

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