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    Senate Rejects Abortion Rights Bill | National News

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    The Senate on Wednesday killed an abortion rights measure cast by lawmakers on both sides as a fundamental question of life, health and political extremism.

    But with the outcome known well in advance, the 51-49 vote to defeat the Women’s’ Health Protection Act became the opening legislative salvo in a midterm election battle where abortion rights has moved to the top tier of campaign issues.

    “As Americans make their decisions in this year’s elections, this question will not go away. They will pay close attention from now until November to Republicans who are responsible for its demise,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in opening Wednesday’s debate.

    “So for my Republican colleagues who have spent the last week wanting to talk about anything other than Roe, it’s time to go on the record,” the New York Democrat said. “All of us will have to answer to this vote for the rest of our time in Congress.”

    The bill, offered up as a response to the leak of a Supreme Court opinion reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling making abortion legal across the nation, would have created a national, legal right to abortion. It would not only codify the 1973 Supreme Court ruling but invalidate restrictions states have already imposed on abortion, such as mandatory waiting periods and “informed consent” laws that make it more onerous for a woman to get an abortion.

    Democrats – all but one of whom cast “aye” votes for the measure – said it was necessary to recognize women’s right to control their own bodies and family planning.

    “Here we are today, a body of 100 – 76% of which are men – making decisions about the private lives of the nearly 168 million women in this country. That’s ludicrous,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat who was elected to the Senate the year after Roe was handed down.

    “How patronizing. … How patriarchal. How insulting. How dangerous,” Leahy said.

    Sen. Jacky Rosen, Nevada Democrat, said if the draft opinion indeed becomes the final Supreme Court ruling, it will not stop abortion.

    “It’s only going to stop women from getting safe abortions. And women will die as a result,” she said.

    Republicans in turn cast the bill as an “extreme” measure out of step with American public opinion.

    “This bill today is ugly, winner-take-all politics,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said during floor debate. “Where’s the tolerance? Where’s the compassion? Where’s the humanity?

    “Americans don’t want the kind of radicalism we see in this bill before us today,” Sasse said.

    Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, stood in front of a large photo of a smiling baby and said the pro-abortion rights rhetoric did not consider the fate of that child.

    “Simple statements like this: Equity, privacy rights, bodily autonomy, health care decisions, freedom to choose, reproductive rights, basic civil rights – all of these are euphemisms for, ‘She has to die,'” Lankford said, pausing dramatically in front of the photo. “And for that, I’m being called a radical extremist. Because I believe she’s valuable.”

    Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly do not want to see Roe undone, an anticipated Supreme Court opinion that would allow all-out bans on abortion in many states and criminal prosecution of medical personnel and, possibly, the patients themselves in some some states.

    When Americans are asked about third trimester abortions – a procedure the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says is rare, with just 1% of abortions being performed after 21 weeks’ gestation – support for the right to an abortion drops dramatically.

    Democratic leaders could have watered down the measure, codifying Roe without also undoing restrictions states have already imposed. Doing so would have brought two Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, onto the bill and likely would have brought a “yes” vote from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the only Democrat to vote against Wednesday’s measure.

    But those three votes would not have been enough to reach the 60-vote threshold to stop a GOP filibuster, leading Schumer to go all-out with a more sweeping measure to keep abortion legal without restrictions that have eroded access to abortion in recent decades.

    That strategy allows Democrats – who are in grave danger of losing control of both the House and the Senate this fall – the opportunity to cast the entire GOP as a party in lockstep against abortion rights at any stage.

    While antiabortion forces have been united and politically very effective in recent decades, pro-abortion rights Democrats are enraged over the draft opinion, and the party believes they will be more motivated to show up at the polls this fall because of it.

    Sen. Maggie Hassan, an imperiled New Hampshire Democrat up for re-election this year, was out with a digital ad Monday slamming her GOP opponents.

    “Three men, one agenda: fulfilling Mitch McConnell’s crusade to criminalize abortion,” the ad says, referring to the Senate minority leader from Kentucky.

    The draft opinion has provided a galvanizing issue for longer-shot Democratic candidates for Senate, such as Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio, where his GOP opponent, J.D. Vance, has called pregnancy from rape and incest “inconvenient” but not circumstances justifying abortion.

    Manchin and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania are two Democrats who call themselves “pro-life” on abortion. On Tuesday, Casey stunned activists by saying he would vote for the Wednesday measure enshrining abortion rights.

    Manchin, whose endorsed West Virginia GOP candidate for a U.S. House seat lost Tuesday night to a more conservative candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, told reporters ahead of the vote he would vote “no.” He was the last to vote Wednesday.

    “Make no mistake – it is not Roe v. Wade codification. It’s an expansion. It expands abortion,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill.

    Schumer, anticipating his failure, delivered a eulogy for the bill and for a Roe-era abortion laws as his colleagues prepared to vote.

    America “will take a shameful and repressive step backward. Our kids will grow up in a country with fewer rights than those who came before them,” Schumer said. “Mark my words – it will be open season on our God-given freedoms.”

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