Senate Republicans Block Bill Supporting Abortion Rights

Legislation supporting abortion rights was blocked by Senate Republicans on Wednesday, as Democrats pressed to put the GOP on the defensive on reproductive rights ahead of the November elections.

The bill needed 60 votes to move forward with debate, meaning nine Republicans would have had to defect and vote with Democrats. The final vote was 49-44, with only two Republicans defecting: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

The legislation was a “sense of Congress” bill that called for supporting abortion access and restoring and expanding the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade. It was sponsored by all of the Democratic women in the Senate and House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“This is a simple vote on whether you support women in making their own decisions about reproductive health care. It doesn't force anything, it doesn't cost anything, it's basically a half-page bill that simply says that women should have the basic freedom to make their own decisions about their health care,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on the Senate floor.

“If Republicans are going to force women to stay pregnant, we are going to force them to be honest with the American people about their extreme position,” she added.

Democrats want to distinguish themselves from Republicans and show them that they oppose these initiatives. This is especially true as the Republican Party struggles to communicate its position on reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In an administration policy statement, the White House indicated it strongly supports the law.

“Abortion, contraception, and fertility services are under attack because Republicans in Congress refuse to protect nationwide access to these vital reproductive health services,” the statement said. “The President and Vice President stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who agree that decisions about reproductive health care should be made by a woman with her doctor, not by politicians.”

It was the third Senate vote since June on protecting women's access to reproductive health care, following votes on the Right to Contraception Act and the Right to IVF Act. Republicans blocked both measures.

But Republicans dismissed Wednesday's move as a sham and a diversion as Democrats grow increasingly concerned about President Biden's fitness as a candidate and whether he should still be at the top of their party's ticket in November.

Republicans say they support Americans' access to contraception and in vitro fertilization, and accuse Democrats of fear-mongering about non-existent threats.

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