Senate set for vote on protecting abortion by codifying Roe vs. Wade in federal law | The Daily Drum
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Senate set for vote on protecting abortion by codifying Roe vs. Wade in federal law

Posted on May 12, 2022

National News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., joins abortion rights activists Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the leak of a draft majority opinion suggesting the court would overturn Roe vs. Wade later this year. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

The Senate on Wednesday will vote on a proposal to safeguard legalized abortion nationwide by enshrining the practice in federal law -- a steep uphill battle aimed at heading off a conservative-majority Supreme Court that appears poised to strike down Roe vs. Wade in the near future.

For years, Democrats and progressives have called on Congress to codify legal abortion into federal law, but the movement gained traction after the leaked Supreme Court opinion last week that signaled that its six conservative justices plan to overturn the landmark 1973 decision before the high court’s term ends in June.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer organized the vote Wednesday, which is scheduled to occur at 3 p.m. EDT.

Schumer said this week that neither Supreme Court justices nor Republican politicians ought to have the power to “take away the rights of a hundred million American women.” He added that women having control over their own bodies would “vanish in the blink of an eye” if the court overturns its previous decision on the issue.

President Joe Biden has already said that he would sign a bill codifying legal abortion into federal law, and the bill would likely pass in the Democratic-controlled House. The enormous obstacle for supporters, however, is in the Senate -- where it’s a 50-50 partisan split.

If the high court does ultimately overturn Roe vs. Wade, the move would leave it up to each individual state to determine whether abortion is legal. Several, including Texas and Mississippi, have already passed strict laws against the practice and some have laws already set to take effect if the Supreme Court strikes down the law.

Wednesday’s vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act would protect a woman’s freedom to decide whether to “continue or end a pregnancy,” and safeguard healthcare providers’ ability to offer abortions.

Additionally, the bill would ban some of the restrictions that have already been enacted in some Republican-led states -- such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods and laws forcing medical providers to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals.

Supporters of the bill need 10 Republican senators to vote for it on Wednesday -- a prospect that’s seen as virtually impossible -- to sidestep a filibuster.

The purpose of Wednesday’s vote, then, is mostly that it’s a referendum on abortion. The move will put voting senators on record regarding their views on the practice, which has always been a divisive issue in the United States.

According to The Washington Post, a group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin are working on a strategy to cover the next potential steps if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.

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