WASHINGTON — Legislation aimed at safeguarding abortion rights across the country is set to fail in the Senate for the second time this year as a conservative majority on the Supreme Court prepares to strike down its landmark 1973 ruling, Roe v. Wade.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would create federal protections for providing and accessing abortion services. The House already passed the bill, but Senate Republicans blocked it from advancing earlier this year. Wednesday’s vote is expected to fall along the same lines.
Faced with few legislative options in the narrowly divided Senate, Democrats are hoping their renewed effort to codify abortion rights will help galvanize voters ahead of the November midterm elections and make clear which party is standing in the way of protecting a woman’s right to choose.
“The vote to protect abortion rights will shine like a floodlight on every member of this chamber,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. “Republicans who pretended disingenuously as if this moment couldn’t possibly happen will have to answer to the women of America whose rights are about to be turned back by decades.”
Neither Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), two pro-choice Republicans, intend to vote for the bill despite efforts by Democrats to make it less divisive. The senators argue it does not provide sufficient protections for anti-abortion health providers, a charge Democrats contest as unwarranted.
A leaked draft opinion showing that a majority of Supreme Court justices voted to overturn Roe in February created a firestorm in Washington this week, leading to protests in front of the homes of several justices. The draft isn’t final; an official decision is expected this summer. But according to several news outlets, the majority holding in the draft opinion hasn’t changed.
Polling has long suggested that most voters don’t favor overturning Roe. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% believe it should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in March.
But Republicans who supported all three of the most recent GOP-appointed Supreme Court justices and who believe that Roe was wrongly decided are betting that other issues, such as the economy, will resonate more with voters in November.
“I don’t see [overturning Roe] as being a decision point for Iowa voters,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said on conservative Hugh Hewitt’s radio show last week. “They are concerned about 40-year high inflation, prices at the pump, a bad economy. That’s what they’re worried about, so I think it might have a little blip here, but not overall.”
More than half of the U.S. is poised to outlaw or severely limit abortion access if the Supreme Court follows through on its draft opinion. Moreover, many of the laws already passed in GOP-controlled states have no exceptions for rape or incest.
Republican legislatures aren’t stopping there, either. Some state lawmakers are pushing forward with even more draconian measures, such as efforts to “criminalize contraceptive care, in vitro fertilization and post-miscarriage care, dragging our nation back to a dark time decades into the past,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned in a letter to her colleagues this week.
Some Republicans in the Senate are even dreaming about the prospect of a national ban on abortion — undercutting rhetoric from many in their party about simply wanting to leave the issue up to each individual state.
Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested in an interview with USA Today that a nationwide ban on abortion is “possible” if his party retakes control of the Senate, though he added he wasn’t willing to eliminate the filibuster to do so. He later told reporters there isn’t a “widespread sentiment” in his caucus that it’s necessary to push for such a measure.
“There’s not the votes for a federal abortion ban at this point, but I think every child is valuable and I think we will get there eventually,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a proponent of a national ban, told HuffPost last week.
Democrats immediately went on offense by seeking to tie McConnell’s comments to GOP candidates across the country. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year, released a digital ad linking her opponents to what the narrator calls “McConnell’s decade-long crusade to criminalize abortion.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, argued that maintaining Democratic control of the Senate would be critical in a post-Roe world.
“We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell does not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions,” Gillibrand said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.”
News syndicated from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abortion-roe-wade-senate_n_62796ed5e4b009a811c74800