By Oliver Camarena
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats Wednesday failed to pass, as expected, the Women’s Health Protection Act which would federally enshrine a woman’s right to get an abortion.
This comes in the week following the Supreme Court draft opinion leak that detailed the court’s decision to overturn the monumental Roe V. Wade case.
The final vote count, which saw Vice President Kamala Harris presiding, ended in 49-51, leaving Democrats short of reaching the 60 vote threshold to override a Senate filibuster. Democrat Joe Manchin’s “no” vote meant the Dems couldn’t even get a simple majority.
The draft opinion also sparked protests from pro-choice advocates around the country, including in the front of the homes of conservative justices—Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts.
With the Supreme Court appearing to gear up to overturn Roe V. Wade and the Senate being unable to override a Republican filibuster on the issue, at least 26 states would quickly move to ban or severely restrict a woman’s access to abortions across the country.
However, even though the bill never made it past the filibuster, it forced all senators to disclose, on the record, where they personally stand on the issue of abortion rights—a now hot topic issue going into the midterms.
“I ask my colleagues to think carefully about their choice later this week. No more running, no more hiding. The vote will shine light on every single one of us,” said Schumer on the Senate floor last Monday.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell also spoke on the issue, saying a national ban on abortion could be a possibility should Republicans take control of Congress following the midterm elections.
Schumer further went on to say that “McConnell’s comments make it perfectly clear why the game here is not about states’ rights. The goal has always been a national ban on abortions altogether.”
The White House has also voiced its support for Schumer and Senate Democrats in passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, adding that the risk is “serious” that Republicans could nationally outlaw abortion following a Republican victory in the midterms.
Republican Governor of Arkansas and potential 2024 presidential candidate, Asa Hutchinson, pointed out the hypocrisy of a national ban on abortion stating that it would be “inconsistent” with long time Republican argument of states having the power to decide where they stand on abortion rights.
“If you look at a constitutional or a national standard, that goes against that thrust of the states having prerogative,” Said Hutchinson, chair of the National Governors Association. “And secondly, I think there’s some constitutional issues of a national standard as well as to what is the authority of the Constitution to enact that.”
Some Senate Democrats are already capitalizing on the issue as fuel for their campaigns going into the midterms. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., launched a digital ad campaign to link her Republican opponents to what she calls “McConnell’s decade-long crusade to criminalize abortion.”
“Ultimately, I think this is going to push a lot of people to the polls this November that may have otherwise stayed home,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, adding, “(T)hey see that this fight is coming not just in the state legislatures, but in Washington as well.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, said, “We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell (do) not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions.”
While the House of Representatives has already voted to codify Roe into federal law, the bill’s failure to pass the Senate leaves it without a chance to become federally enshrined in the Constitution. It is, for now, a matter to be decided by the states.