WASHINGTON: Democrats in the U.S. Senate plan pushed ahead with plans to force a vote Wednesday (May 11) on legislation codifying women’s statewide right to abortion, a protest gesture that will almost certainly fail before a Supreme Court decision expected to end those protections.
Most Senate Republicans oppose abortion, and the razor-thin majority of Democrats will not be enough to overcome the chamber’s rules, which require 60 of the 100 members to approve most legislation. But Democrats hope the vote will increase their chances of holding or even winning seats in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
“The vote to protect abortion rights will shine like a floodlight on every member of this chamber,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday in the Senate.
As the vote nears, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin intends to oppose the legislation, CNN reported. A Manchin spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Even if Manchin supported the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” there was no prospect of success in the deeply divided Senate.
Meanwhile, behind-closed-door talks continued over a possible abortion-rights compromise, though it was unclear whether Democratic and Republican negotiators would be able to lure the 60 votes needed for such a measure.
America’s decades-long struggle for abortion rights exploded again last week when the Supreme Court upheld the authenticity of a draft opinion signaling it will soon overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Opinion polls have shown that abortion rights are widespread. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week found that 63 percent of respondents, including 78 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans, would be more likely to back pro-choice candidates in November’s election.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for sexual and reproductive health rights, at least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe.
Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell told USA Today last week that it was “possible” that a Republican-controlled Senate could pass legislation restricting abortion nationwide in a post-Roe v. Wade world.
Amid widespread media coverage of the statement, McConnell noted during a Tuesday news conference that neither Democrats nor Republicans were likely to get the 60 votes needed to get abortion legislation through the Senate.
“This issue is being addressed at the state level,” McConnell said.
Last September, the House of Representatives voted 218 to 211 to pass an abortion rights bill almost identical to the Senate bill up for a vote on Wednesday.
Some Democrats believe a move to oust Roe in November could help them by energizing their constituents and getting more women on their side.
Republicans are counting on inflation, which has pushed up the prices of gasoline, groceries and many other consumer goods, to help them secure a victory that would rein in Democratic President Joe Biden in the second half of his first term.
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