Republicans block legislation proposed by Democrats that seeks to guarantee access to abortion in all 50 states.
Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Senate failed to advance a bill legalizing abortion nationwide on Wednesday, but managed to get Republicans to oppose the measure as both parties position themselves for an impending crisis. political battle.
Republicans blocked the measure on a 49-51 Senate procedural vote that fell short of the necessary 60-vote threshold. Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote in the Senate, where Democrats hold only a 51-50 majority over Republicans.
The action comes as the US Supreme Court appears. willing to abandon its landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade which legalized abortion in all 50 US states.
“The American people are watching,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote. “The public will not forget which side of the vote senators fall on today.”
The outcome of the court’s actual ruling, expected in June, is sure to reverberate across the country and into the election campaign ahead of fall midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
Dozens of House Democratic lawmakers marched protest-style to the Senate and watched from Senate visitors’ galleries.
One by one, Democratic senators delivered speeches on the Senate floor asserting that undoing abortion access would do great harm, not just to women but to all Americans planning for their families and futures.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said most American women have only known a world where access to abortion was guaranteed, but they could face a future with fewer rights than their mothers or grandmothers.
“That means women won’t have the same control over their lives and bodies as men, and that’s wrong,” she said before Wednesday’s vote.
Two Republican senators who support abortion access, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, voted “no” to advance the bill, proposing a more tailored approach to counter potential Supreme Court action.
“I plan to continue working with my colleagues on legislation to maintain, not expand or restrict, the current legal framework for abortion rights in this country,” Collins said in a statement.
Few Republican senators spoke in favor of ending abortion access, though most joined the vote to block bill to advance.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a architect of effort to install conservative Supreme Court justices, including three during the era of former Republican US President Donald Trump, has sought to downplay the outcome of any potential changes to federal abortion policy.
“This issue will be dealt with at the state level,” McConnell said.
At least 19 US states have abortion bans that predate the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling or would take effect if it is vacated. Meanwhile, 16 states and Washington, DC have laws that protect abortion services.
Republican Senator John Thune argued that the proposed bill was extreme and would expand access to abortion beyond what is already law in the US and other leading countries around the world.
One Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, who represents a majority Republican state, told reporters he supported keeping Roe v Wade but would vote “no” on this bill as too broad, joining Republicans in blocking his consideration.
Security on Wednesday was tight at the US Capitol and tightened across the street at the Supreme Court after thousands of protesters gathered outside the court last week following the leak of a draft court decision on abortion.
Congress has fought for years over abortion policy, but the vote to accept the abortion rights bill came new urgency after the release of the Supreme Court’s draft ruling by the conservative majority to overturn the Roe decision that many had believed was established law.
With congressional elections coming up in November, both parties face enormous pressure to convince voters that they are doing everything they can; Democrats working to preserve access to abortion, Republicans to limit or eliminate it.