Senate Narrowly Defeats ‘Pernicious’ Abortion Bill

Women’s Health Protection Act would codify abortion, with or without Roe v. Wade

Senate Narrowly Defeats ‘Pernicious’ Abortion Bill

Women’s Health Protection Act would codify abortion, with or without Roe v. Wade

On Monday (Feb. 28), most Senate Republicans—with help from one Democrat—narrowly defeated a sweeping bill that would have codified a federal right to abortion if the Supreme Court were to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision later this year.

In an evening session, the 47 Republicans, along with Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., successfully defeated the Women’s Health Protection Act—dubbed by some pro-life groups as the “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act.” In a 48-46 vote against the measure, with six senators not voting, the bill was effectively dead as the chamber needed 60 “yays” to move it to the floor and avoid the filibuster.

If passed, the bill would nullify several pro-life laws, including Texas’ Heartbeat Bill, which has saved approximately 17,000 babies since it became law in September 2021, and severely limit the states’ future ability to regulate abortion.

The vote against the bill is a relief for pro-life groups, which were concerned that the it could reverse decades of hard work enacting pro-life laws and reasonable abortion restrictions.

The president of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in an email statement on the bill’s failure, said: “We thank all our pro-life Senate allies who spoke out about the extremism of this atrocious bill and helped defeat it. Biden, Pelosi and Schumer’s ‘Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act’ would enshrine an unlimited abortion ‘right’ in federal law and block common ground pro-life laws around the country, including limits on late-term abortions when unborn babies feel pain, bans on lethal discrimination abortions, and many more. In calling for this bill to be passed, Chuck Schumer referred to abortion as a ‘sacred’ and ‘fundamental right’—proving that pro-abortion Democrats could not be more radically out of touch with the American people. Those who sided with the abortion lobby to trample the will of the people will face political consequences.”

Lila Rose, the founder and head of Live Action, wrote on Twitter: “Every Republican Senator along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin voted to defeat this pernicious effort to force the most extreme abortion regime in the world upon America. Among Democrats, only Machin had the moral integrity to buck the party-line & reject this atrocity.”

Though the bill failed this time, that is perhaps by design.

Writing for National Review, pro-life commentator Alexandra DeSanctis explained that the vote went ahead under Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-New York) direction with the understanding that the bill would fail.

DeSanctis said, “The vote was aimed instead at shoring up the base in expectation of a Supreme Court ruling this summer weakening or overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which currently mandate abortion on demand and prevent states from enacting most protections for unborn children.”

Though this effort was defeated, pro-abortion Democrat senators are not giving up.

On Twitter, Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray said, “Tonight, Democrats stood up to protect the right to abortion and defend #RoeVWade as the law of the land. Unlike Republicans, we made clear that we trust patients to make their own decisions about their bodies and families.

“We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but I’m not giving up.”

This bill could be revisited in the next couple of months depending on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which limits abortion to 15 weeks with few exceptions.

 
Above: Nancy Pelosi advocates for the Women’s Health Protection Act during a press conference on Sept. 24, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

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