Senate Democrats failed to bring up for debate an abortion access bill that would legalize the procedure throughout a woman’s pregnancy and eliminate conscience protections for healthcare workers in a Wednesday procedural vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to bring the Women’s Health Protection Act up for a second vote in the Senate shortly after a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. Democrats failed to open debate on the bill in February after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin joined all 50 Republicans in opposing a cloture vote. Wednesday’s vote was a repeat of that roll call, and Democratic leaders did not appear to expect anything different.
“Every senator will have to vote and every, every American will see how they voted. And I believe the Republican Party, the MAGA Republican Party, will suffer the consequences electorally when the American people see that,” Schumer said before the vote.
The bill passed the House of Representatives in September 2021, with Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar the only Democrat to vote against it. (RELATED: Democratic Leadership Supports Pro-Life Candidate While Bemoaning End Of Roe)
Although top Democrats framed the legislation as affirming the legal regime established in Roe v. Wade, the Women’s Health Protection Act eliminates several regulations that federal courts have upheld. The bill would end bans on partial-birth abortions and eliminate requirements that women be presented with ultrasounds before they undergo an abortion. It would also likely allow sex-selective abortions, which eleven states currently ban, according to the pro-legal abortion Guttmacher Institute.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both of whom support Roe v. Wade, announced that they would not support the Democratic legislation, citing those provisions. They introduced an alternative amendment in February that would maintain conscience protections while legalizing abortion at the federal level, but Schumer has repeatedly refused to support “compromise” legislation on the issue.
“They’re trying to make people believe that this is the same thing as codifying Roe v. Wade. And I want you to know, it’s not. This is not the same. It expands abortion,” Manchin added.
During floor speeches in opposition to the legislation, Republicans emphasized polling showing that large majorities of Americans support limiting abortion past the point of fetal viability.
“80% of Americans want to see abortion banned in the third trimester,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said. “It’s hard to get 80% of Americans to agree on anything, yet 80% agree that third trimester abortions, the kind of thing this bill wants to make sure is explicitly championed, states could not prevent and prohibit third trimester abortions. That’s what this bill is about.”