On Wednesday, May 11th, the Senate failed to pass legislation that would give women a constitutional right to abortion into federal law.
The Democratic bill failed, as expected, by a vote of 49 to 51. All Democrats voted for the legislation except Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and all Republicans opposed the bill. The West Virginia senator was the only Democrat to vote against the bill and to join the Republicans in blocking the measures to make abortion a constitutional right.
Manchin told reporters before Wednesday’s vote that he would only support the legislation that “solely enshrines Roe’s Protections,” which he said would be the “reasonable, rational thing to do.”
According to the Washington Post, even if Manchin had voted with the Democrats it wouldn’t have exceeded the 60-vote threshold necessary to avoid a filibuster. Be that as it may, the Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer brought the bill to the floor to put lawmakers on the record.
“The public will not forget which side of the vote senators fall on today, they will not forget who voted to protect their freedoms, and they will not forget those responsible for the greatest backslide of individual liberties in half a century,” Schumer told the Senate floor just before the vote.
Although the vote was successfully symbolic, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments over the weekend saying that Republicans might try to move on a nationwide abortion ban upped the stakes even more for the Democrats. The draft opinion from the court would not issue a national ban, but it would allow states to do so.
According to CBS, The White House supported the passage of the bill and said in a statement that it’s “evident that the constitutional rights protected for nearly 50 years are now in severe jeopardy.”
“The urgency to protect women’s health, their fundamental right to control their reproductive choices, and the freedom of all people to build their own future has never been greater,” the White House budget office said.
President Joe Biden has not only expressed his support of the bill, but released a statement on the failure to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.
“This failure to act comes at a time when women’s constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack – and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people.” Biden said in his statement.
Biden further explained that to protect a woman’s right to choose, voters “voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House.” Saying that “if they do, Congress can pass this bill in January”
If the Supreme Court ends up striking down the 1973 decision in Roe, it is likely that more then half the states will restrict abortion access.