The Senate will vote during the week of May 9 on a bill that would codify a right to access to abortion into law if passed, the top Democrat in the chamber said May 3.
“A vote on this legislation is no longer an abstract exercise. It’s as urgent and real as it gets. We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose. Every American is going to see where every senator stands. Which side are they on?” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
He was speaking hours after the Supreme Court confirmed that a published draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that ruled access to abortion was a constitutional right, was authentic, though the court also said it wasn’t final.
The House of Representatives in September 2021 passed the bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act.
All Democrats voted yes except for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who joined all Republicans who cast votes in voting against the measure.
Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blocked the bill in the upper chamber in March.
Schumer said he has not spoken to Manchin. Asked why he would hold a vote on the bill when it would likely fail again, he said “it’s a different world now.
“The tectonic plates of our politics on women’s choice and on rights in general are changing. Every senator now under the real glare of Roe v. Wade being repealed by the courts is going to have to show which side they’re on, and we will find the best way to go forward after that. But don’t think that what happened two weeks ago will be exactly the same,” he told reporters.
The legislation would need 60 votes to pass the filibuster. Republicans hold 50 seats in the Senate and few support any pro-abortion bills, much less one that would codify access to abortion in federal law.
“I don’t think he would have the votes,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told reporters on Capitol Hill, referring to Schumer.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), two of the few that do, introduced a separate bill earlier this year that would enshrine the right, while arguing their legislation did not go as far as the Democrat bill.
Schumer said he has not read the Republicans’ bill.
Manchin, meanwhile, told reporters that he still will not vote to get rid of the filibuster, which most Democrats support doing.
“The filibuster is the only protection we have of democracy right now,” he said. “I’ve always believed in protecting women’s rights with the filibuster so you have to look at it, but the bottom line is we need checks and balances.”