Dems’ bid to secure Roe v. Wade falls to GOP-led filibuster

The Senate has failed vote in an effort toward enshrining Roe v. Wade abortion access into...
The Senate has failed vote in an effort toward enshrining Roe v. Wade abortion access into federal law.(MGN)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:09 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has failed vote in an effort toward enshrining Roe v. Wade abortion access into federal law.

Wednesday’s 51-49 negative vote almost along party lines provided a stark display of the nation’s partisan divide over the landmark court decision and the limits of legislative action.

The afternoon roll call promised to be the first of several efforts in Congress to preserve the nearly 50-year-old court ruling.

President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee the constitutional right to abortion services after the disclosure of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

But Democrats in the split Senate lacked the votes to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.

Senator Susan Collins, who voted no, says the bill was too broad and would not allow providers to refuse to perform abortions on religious grounds.

She has introduced a narrower bill, and said in a statement Wednesday:

“I support codifying the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  That’s not what the Women’s Health Protection Act would do,” said Senator Collins. “Unlike some far-left activists, Senator Murkowski and I want the law today to be the law tomorrow.  That’s why we introduced legislation in February that would enshrine the important Roe and Casey protections into law without undercutting statutes that have been in place for decades and without eliminating basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections to performing abortions.

“Contrary to claims from Senate Democratic leaders that their bill would not infringe upon the religious rights of individuals and religious institutions, the WHPA explicitly invalidates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in connection with abortion and supersedes other longstanding, bipartisan conscience laws, including provisions in the Affordable Care Act, that protect health care providers who choose not to offer abortion services for moral or religious reasons.

“After today’s vote fails, 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.”

Senator Angus King, who voted yes, said:

“For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade has protected the most basic, private healthcare rights of half the nation,” said Senator King. “This longstanding precedent has been reaffirmed time and time again, but the makeup of the current Court and the contents of the draft opinion published last week show that these rights are now facing their most serious threat in half a century. We cannot move backwards, which is why today I voted to secure the protections of Roe and defend the ability of millions of women to make decisions about their own health, safety, and lives.

“The Women’s Health Protection Act is not a radical change – in fact, it would have primarily maintained the status quo of the last 49 years of healthcare policy. I’ve closely examined this legislation and believe it preserves American women’s existing right to access critical, lifesaving care with the support of trained medical professionals, regardless of the Court’s upcoming ruling. The bill would not undermine existing protections for healthcare providers who decline to perform abortions based on personal beliefs, while ensuring that women are still able to make decisions regarding their own body. Without these protections, this healthcare service would become more difficult to access for millions, and the lives of low-income Americans who cannot afford to travel to a state where abortion is legal will be put at risk.

“Unfortunately, this effort fell short. I’m deeply frustrated that our commonsense bill to protect this essential right is not advancing, and truly worried that the upcoming Supreme Court ruling will likely fulfill the clear, decades-long goal of conservative leaders to impose their personal and religious views on women across America. But despite today’s setback, we will continue looking for ways to protect the rights and healthcare of women across our country – because we cannot, and will not, return to a world that prevents women from making their own decisions about their body.”

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