In March, a Senate vote on a 46-48 abortion rights bill failed. This week, lawmakers are about to hold the same vote and eventually get a similar result.
However, the new vote comes nine days after a bomb report from Politico revealed that the Supreme Court was about to be quashed? Roe to Wade. Because of this report, Democrats see a vital need to vote on the issue again, underscoring what they — and vulnerable Republicans — are for in the midterm elections.
“People in our country need to know where we all stand when it comes to protecting a woman’s right to control her own body. That’s it,” Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) told cafemadrid.
This week’s vote is the second on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would guarantee the ability of health care providers to perform an abortion and the right of individuals to access an abortion. It is widely expected to fail, given the filibuster and internal divisions among Democrats over abortion rights. While sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)Long-standing stand on abortion rights legislation has announced he will support the bill, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) still hasn’t indicated where he stands.
Since it is unlikely to pass, the vote aims to rally the Democratic base while also giving Democrats ammunition to use against Republican challengers in the 2022 midterm elections.
“Republicans have made their position clear: They want to end abortion,” said Sara Spain, a national press secretary for advocacy group Emily’s List. “The WHPA vote is yet another reminder that Democrats are behind voters and our rights, while Republicans are on the other side.”
Already, candidates in battlefield states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire have cited Republicans’ stance on abortion in campaign ads. Democrats have also seized comments Senate Leader Mitch McConnell made recently signaling openness to a national abortion ban, and used them as an example of why it’s important for Democratic voters to show up in November. Democrats also hope this vote will show voters that they are trying to pass on protections in this area.
“Republicans have two choices. They can own the destruction of women’s rights, or they can change course and work to prevent the damage,” Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech last week.
What would the bill do?
The Women’s Health Protection Act would enshrine in federal law the right to access and abortion, and would replace state laws in this area. It would effectively neutralize laws in 19 states who have tried to severely restrict or ban access to abortion.
In particular, the law would prohibit a twenty-six-week abortion ban. It would also ban policies, such as ultrasound requirements and waiting times, that try to make it more difficult to have an abortion. The text of the legislation makes it clear that it is a direct response to what the bill’s sponsors say are more than 500 state and local laws restricting access to abortion that have been implemented in some way since 2011.
Such restrictions have disproportionately harmed low-income people — in particular Black and Hispanic people — who are already less likely to have health care coverage for abortions, and who face more barriers to accessing alternative options if their state creates barriers.
While the WHPA would provide far-reaching abortion protection, it would not replace laws governing insurance coverage for abortions. There are strict limits on Medicaid abortion coverage because of the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on the use of federal funding for such health care. Democrats had hoped to get rid of the rule, which typically gives a lift to credit legislation, but couldn’t get the Republican votes they needed.
Why the Democrats Couldn’t Pass the Bill
Democrats face two challenges when it comes to passing an abortion rights bill in Congress: the Senate filibuster and their own disagreements on the issue.
Because of the legislative filibuster, most bills need 60 votes to pass, meaning the Democrats need to get their entire caucus on board and 10 Republicans to join them. Even with Casey’s support — and even if Manchin votes yes — 10 GOP senators voting to protect abortion rights won’t happen.
Another option would be to overthrow the filibuster. They would need all 50 members on board to eliminate the filibuster on any bill, support they currently have for no problem since Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) opposed it. It’s an even longer chance with abortion rights, as Democrats disagree on codification of legislation roe†
In the past, Manchin has voted against the vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, although he has not yet revealed where he stands now.
Theoretically, there is a third option: have a few Republican senators who are pro-abortion join 48 or 49 Democratic senators to overthrow the filibuster and then pass a law that roe† Two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – support abortion rights, but disagree with the Women’s Health Protection Act, claiming it is too comprehensive and supersedes certain laws they supports.
They have proposed an alternative bill that would extend the protections provided by roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Their bill would ensure that states cannot place an “unnecessary burden” on people seeking abortions, although it would give states more room to impose their own restrictions.
While Collins and Murkowski’s support wouldn’t get 60 votes, pressure has been put on Schumer to consider that bill to make the vote bipartisan. (Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has also said he is working with both senators on another possible version of the bill.)
However, Schumer has chosen to focus on the version of the Democrats and argued that lawmakers should not compromise on the issue. Strategically, the vote on the WHPA will allow Democrats to say that all Senate Republicans voted against abortion protection, helping them underscore the broad Republican opposition on the issue in the midterm elections.
sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the sponsor of the Democrats’ bill, also says Collins and Murkowski’s bill falls short. “The other bill offers no protection,” he told cafemadrid. “It allows states to impose bans using the loopholes and gaps in that law.”
This vote is about messages for the midterms
Because of the obstacles they face in Congress, Democrats look to the midterm elections as their primary means of protecting their majority — and take action later.
Candidates have already begun to focus on abortion rights in major Senate races like New Hampshire, Nevada and Wisconsin in hopes of rallying voters as polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans support Roe v. Wade† This doomed vote is ultimately designed to motivate Democratic voters and reach out to potential voters who feel the Republican approach to the issue is too extreme.
This cycle, Senate Democrats defend four incumbents in swing states: Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Raphael Warnock (GA), Maggie Hassan (NH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), as Republicans defend the seats of incumbent Sens Ron Johnson (WI) and Marco Rubio (FL), as well as open seats in Ohio , North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
In these races, abortion becomes a flash point. “The Republican men—and yes, they are all men—running against me are all carrying out an extreme, anti-choice agenda,” sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) tweeted last week† Cortez Masto has also called her opponent, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, “an automatic vote for legislation that punishes women for seeking abortions” if he were elected. And Democratic candidate Sarah Godlewski. from Wisconsin has highlighted Johnson’s past support for the state’s abortion ban, which would be reinstated if: roe fall.
“Voters won’t forget how anti-choice Republicans in the Senate like Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio helped create this crisis — or how they refuse to stand up for their voters’ freedom to make their own decisions about their families and future,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America Acting Communications Director Ally Boguhn.
if Axios has reported, Republican candidates in swing states, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida and Ohio, have expressed strong support for abortion bans, with limited exceptions.
Democrats have linked these candidates to comments McConnell made about the possibility of passing a national abortion ban if Republicans also control both houses of Congress. They see this week’s vote as adding to the argument they are making about the differences between the two parties on the issue — and the importance of electing even more Democrats to the Senate.