Every Republican in the U.S. Senate and one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Wednesday afternoon voted against legislation that would codify into federal law the right to abortion. The vote 49-51 vote against allowing debate to proceed on the Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 4132) required 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.
The failure to move the legislation forward comes just weeks before the Supreme Court is widely expected to strike down Roe v. Wade, which for 49 years has protected women’s constitutional rights to abortion.
Senator Manchin earlier had told reporters he opposes abortion but believes Roe v. Wade is precedent and said he would have voted to codify it into law. He claimed today’s legislation went too far and implied the conservative justices seeking to overturn the 1973 decision may not have been forthcoming about their intentions during their confirmation hearings.
The vote was expected to fail. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says his goal was to get every Senator on the record.
Today, this Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the right to an abortion into federal law.
The American people will see where every single U.S. Senator stands.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 11, 2022
The vast majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose. But because of how the Senate was originally envisioned by the founders and because of the legislative filibuster the majority are not being represented.
“The 49 senators who support the Women‘s Health Protection Act represent over 41 million more people than the 51 senators who oppose it,” wrote Vox’s legal expert Ian Millhiser.
In addition to codifying Roe v. Wade into law, the Women’s Health Protection Act expands abortion access and eliminates countless requirements put in place by the states that make it harder for a woman to obtain an abortion. Some of those restrictions include wait times, requirements women to be shown imaging of the fetus, and increase costs by requiring travel due to restrictions designed to reduce the number of legal providers.
Sen. Machin specifically said he opposes striking down those state laws.