Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate say the body will vote next week on a controversial bill that would guarantee abortion remains legal in the United States even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made the announcement on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion appeared to show the justices were seriously considering the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The bill, dubbed the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” would legalize abortion “without limitations” and overturn hundreds of state-level pro-life laws. Significantly, it would guarantee that abortion remains legal nationwide no matter how the Supreme Court rules.
The bill was blocked in March on a 46-48 vote, with 47 Republicans joining one Democrat (Sen. Joe Manchin) in preventing it from receiving the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. All 46 votes for the bill came from the Democratic caucus. No Republicans supported it.
The bill's text says its purpose is to “permit health care providers to provide abortion services without limitations or requirements.”
“Next week's vote will be one of the most important we take, not only this session, but in this century,” Schumer said.
A vote, he said, is scheduled for next Wednesday (May 11).
“This is not an abstract exercise,” he said. “It’s as real, it's as urgent as it gets.”
The House previously passed the bill, which President Biden supports.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) said the bill is being tweaked in order to draw more votes.
“There were some language challenges with the original version, and I think they’re trying to eliminate those concerns,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said, according to Politico. “They’re taking care of that. Is that enough to get Manchin’s support? I don’t know.”
Two pro-choice Senate Republicans, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, oppose the bill but support a narrower one they are promoting, Politico reported.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) previously called the Democratic bill “radical,” saying it would mean that states “have functionally no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.” The United States, he said, is “one of just seven nations in the entire world that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks.”
“This radical fringe policy places us in company [with countries] such as China and North Korea,” he said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.