Legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade into law has been blocked in the United States Senate thanks to the opposition of the entire Senate Republican caucus along with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who calls himself a Democrat and belongs to the Senate Democratic caucus, but rarely behaves like a Democrat.
The bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, had been expected to get filibustered. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer staged the vote anyway to put Republicans on record as opposed to reproductive rights. Even Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who say they favor abortion care in some circumstances, voted to block the bill, which just goes to show that they aren’t really in favor of letting people make their own reproductive health decisions.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Yea for Reproductive Rights: Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT)
Voting Nay: Republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (ID), Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (AK), Steve Daines (MT)
A total of fifty-one senators voted against considering the bill, while forty-nine voted in favor. The fifty-one opposed were Manchin and every Republican.
The White House responded to the vote promptly by issuing a statement from President Joe Biden expressing his profound disappointment.
Said the President:
“Once again – as fundamental rights are at risk at the Supreme Court – Senate Republicans have blocked passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that affirmatively protects access to reproductive health care. This failure to act comes at a time when women’s constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack – and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people.”
“Republicans in Congress – not one of whom voted for this bill – have chosen to stand in the way of Americans’ rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives,” the President added.
“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. If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.”
“The protections that the Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure are essential to the health, safety, and progress of our nation.”
“While this legislation did not pass today, my Administration will not stop fighting to protect access to women’s reproductive care. We will continue to defend women’s constitutional rights to make private reproductive choices as recognized in Roe v. Wade nearly half a century ago, and my Administration will continue to explore the measures and tools at our disposal to do just that.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the vote in the Senate and announced the result, also relayed her unhappiness with the outcome.
“The majority of the American people believe in defending a woman’s right, her choice to decide what happens to her own body,” said the Vice President.
“And this vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue,” she told reporters in remarks following the vote.
“It also makes clear that a priority for all who care about this issue — a priority should be to elect pro-choice leaders at the local, the state, and the federal level, because what we are seeing around this country are extremist Republican leaders who are seeking to criminalize and punish women.”
“Reproductive rights will be on the ballot in November,” vowed DNC Chair Jaime Harrison. “The Republican Party’s extremism knows no bounds. They’ve made clear a federal ban on abortion is on the table should they take power. And across the country, Republican state legislators are poised to weaponize the anticipated far-right Supreme Court decision to threaten access to birth control and IVF, and even criminalize reproductive health care. This is what’s at stake.”
“The majority of Americans oppose this extreme agenda. Republicans cannot be allowed to impose their ultra-MAGA wishlist on our country.”
“We must elect more Democrats in November in order to protect the fundamental rights of all Americans. From now until Election Day, the Democratic National Committee will work to do just that. And we will hold every last MAGA Republican accountable for their all-out assault on women’s health and for their continued efforts to strip away the rights of Americans.”
“Today, every senator was presented with a choice: to defend Americans’ right to privacy and abortion rights, or to put politicians in the exam room to dictate the reproductive decisions of America’s women,” said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
“The choice was easy. As I cast my vote in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, I thought of patients and providers unsettled by a near future where we could lose the ability to make our most intimate decisions for ourselves. In just a few weeks, five unelected and unaccountable Supreme Court justices are expected to act as a super legislature to rob Americans’ of our right to legal abortion and control over our own bodies.”
“It’s horrifying and outrageous to all who believe in a free society and who reject government encroachment into our personal lives. Today’s vote is important because in our democracy citizens need to know where we stand on important issues. I believe Oregonians and the American people do not want MAGA politicians telling survivors of rape and incest that they must stay pregnant.”
“We do not want doctors to fear criminal prosecution for delivering the care that protects the health and life of their patients. Americans do not want politicians and judges in our exam rooms and bedrooms.”
“It’s up to all of us who believe in freedom and liberty from an overreaching government to create the political change that prevents this nightmare vision from becoming our reality. This weekend, Americans will gather to speak out.”
“We are in a struggle with an extremist minority that wants to control you and your life. I will never give up the fight for protecting and promoting access to health care, including safe and legal abortion care.”
“Here’s my message to Republicans: women will not forget your cruelty,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington. “I ran for the Senate because of the Supreme Court. I ran for the Senate because I watched Anita Hill’s testimony where it was plain as day that women’s voices weren’t being heard.”
“Where a woman was bombarded with offensive questions — from a Committee full of men— and then a man — who didn’t answer questions on Roe v. Wade and who didn’t even bother to listen to Ms. Hill’s testimony — ascended to the highest court in the land to make decisions for women all across the country.”
“And we’re seeing how that’s playing out right now. That just wasn’t okay with me. So I took the anger, the frustration, the drive that I felt — and I made it to the United States Senate. So mark my words: women won’t just remember — they will be out in the streets, registering to vote, running for office. They will be ceaseless in their activism. I know because I was one of those women back in ’92. I’m a Senator now: and I’m leading this fight. We are going to make our voices and our votes heard — and we are going to win because there is no other option.”