On Monday, federal legislation that would enshrine abortion rights nationwide and override state laws like Texas’ six-week abortion ban failed in the Senate after a vote to begin debate on the measure was unsuccessful. The vote functionally blocks the Women’s Health Protection Act from going into law.
Impassioned speeches were given on the Senate floor from both sides of the aisle, but Democratic leaders could not gather enough support to reach the 60-vote threshold required to start debate and eventually proceed to vote on the bill.
“The right to choose is intensely personal, and by and large, the American people support the protections enshrined in Roe,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, just before the vote. “So Americans deserve to know where their senators stand on this crucial issue.”
The bill would solidify the Supreme Court ruling from Roe v. Wade (1973) into federal law and cement a woman’s legal right to an abortion this time through legislation as opposed to previous court decisions. It would also nullify the six-week ban that went into effect in Texas last year as well as other abortion bans that directly challenge the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.
The vote to start debate on the measure failed 46-48 as both Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted no. Currently, the Senate is evenly split 50-50 between the parties, and Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as the breaking vote in the event of a tie, which gives Democrats a slight majority.
Republicans were united in their opposition to the act, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican From Kentucky, commented before the vote, “With a cascade of major crises testing our country, Senate Democrats are prioritizing a show vote on mandating nine months of abortion on demand across America.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE GUARDIAN