The U.S. Senate turned back an effort to end debate Wednesday on a procedural motion concerning the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022. The 49-51 vote effectively killed the Democratic-led bill to legalize abortion around the country through legislation, rather than a court decision as it currently stands in Roe v. Wade.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced the vote on the measure after a leak showed the Supreme Court may overturn the 1973 Roe decision that said women have a constitutional right to an abortion.
“If the decision happens, tens of millions of women will see their right to have control over their own bodies vanish in the blink of an eye,” Schumer said. “Imagine five extreme justices telling 100 million American women how they should treat their bodies.”
All 50 Republicans voted against cloture, in addition to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The remaining 49 Democrats voted in favor.
Sens. Manchin, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) said they would support a bill that codifies Roe, but the Women’s Health Protection Act went too far and was too broad.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said it doesn’t matter who has the majority in the Senate, as an abortion bill will not get 60 votes to pass and the upper chamber will not alter the filibuster rule to get it done.
If the bill was approved, it would have prohibited limitations on abortion before fetal viability or after viability if the doctor determines the pregnancy could endanger the mother’s health. It also banned limits on health care providers’ ability to provide abortion services via tele-medicine.
The act also clearly spelled out how courts should determine whether a new law impedes access to abortion. For instance, the bill states, “Whether the limitation or requirement is reasonably likely to result in a decrease in the availability of abortion services in a given State or geographic region.”
It also instructed courts to consider whether the law would “delay or deter” a woman from getting an abortion.
This bill also prevented the federal government and all state governments from making any new laws that place stricter limits on abortions and gives the attorney general, doctors, and patients the authority to take civil action against anyone who tries.
Both conservatives and liberals have concerns about what will happen if Roe is overturned. Those on the left have expressed dismay about the 13 states that have passed what are called “trigger laws,” or laws that will severely restrict or ban abortions if and when Roe is overturned. Some conservatives are concerned that laws legalizing abortion could force doctors and other health care providers to perform abortions, even if they are morally against it for religious reasons.