A bill to protect abortion rights failed to clear the Senate on Wednesday, as Democrats seek to highlight to looming prospect that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe V. Wade.
The Senate voted 49-51, far short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation, albeit the outcome was anticipated. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined with all Republicans to oppose the bill.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would put Roe V. Wade abortion access protections into federal law, and also ban certain state restrictions on care.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled the vote after Politico published a draft Supreme Court opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, showing that a majority of the justices were in favor of overturning the nearly 50-year-old precedent. Democrats have seized on the looming decision, as polls show a majority of the public favors keeping Roe V. Wade in place.
After the vote, Schumer told reporters, “We are going to continue to highlight this issue relentlessly and strongly between now and November because it is so important,” noting the contrast on the issue between the parties.
Manchin said earlier on Wednesday that he planned to vote against the legislation because it was too broad. “I will vote for Roe V. Wade codification if it was today. I was hopeful for that,” he told reporters. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that they also planned to vote no even though they favor codifying Roe V. Wade language into law.
Manchin opposes abortion, but said that he thought that Roe V. Wade was “precedented law.” He told CNN that when he met with prospective Supreme Court nominees, “and they confirmed their belief and support for precedented law, I believed it. We found out that is not what they are moving towards, and we will find out when they have their final ruling from that. I was very disappointed to see that.”
Faced with an uphill battle to retain control of Congress, Democrats are seizing on the pending Supreme Court decision to make the case that Republicans will pursue an “extremist agenda,” in the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a statement after the vote, she said that “once Republicans eviscerate long-standing precedent and privacy rights with the Roe ruling, they intend to wage an all-out assault on more of our rights – including access to contraception and marriage equality.”
This story will be updated.
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