A bill that would have recognized and protected abortion rights across the United States, codifying many aspects of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, failed to garner enough votes for passage in the Senate on Wednesday.
The vote was expected to fail due to the high likelihood that it would be filibustered by Republicans. In the end, the bill failed to garner even 50 votes from senators.
Forty-nine Democratic senators voted for the bill, while 50 Republicans, plus Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted against the legislation.
Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote. Before the roll call was taken, Democratic lawmakers from the House had marched from their chamber to the Senate, chanting “My body, my choice” to encourage a vote affirming the legislation they had previously passed.
The vote was held in response to a draft opinion from the Supreme Court that was leaked earlier this month, in which five conservative justices, constituting a majority, signaled support for overturning the nearly 50-year precedent of abortion rights protections that were established in Roe.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), speaking before the vote took place, acknowledged the likely outcome, but noted that the vote would demonstrate to Americans exactly where their elected senators stand on the bill.
“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,” he predicted.
In a statement that was issued after the vote, President Joe Biden blasted the Senate’s “failure to act” on protecting “constitutional rights” to abortion access.
“To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House,” he added. “If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.”
Schumer also warned voters that if they elected “more MAGA Republicans” — that is, lawmakers who are strongly aligned with former Republican President Donald Trump — they would likely see a nationwide ban on abortion in the next legislative session.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has indeed signaled that his party is headed in that direction, noting that a national ban on the medical procedure could be “possible” if Republicans take control of Congress.
“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said last week. “And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible.”