US Senate, Republican Party, blocks bill declaring Congress’s support for abortion access

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is at an impasse over reproductive rights as Republicans blocked Democrats from introducing a measure that would support access to abortion.

The failed 49-44 procedural vote was just one in a series of votes Senate Democrats will hold this summer to highlight differences between the two political parties on contraception, in vitro fertilization and abortion ahead of the November election.

Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski were the only Republicans to vote to send the bill to final passage.

“This is a simple up or down vote on whether you support women’s ability to make their own reproductive health care decisions,” Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said during a floor debate. “It doesn’t force anything. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s really just a half-page bill that simply says that women should have the basic freedom to make their own health care decisions.”

Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said women and their doctors, not politicians, should make decisions about abortion and other reproductive health choices.

“This is our current reality, but it doesn’t have to be our future,” Klobuchar said. “This is a defining moment for America: Do we move forward and protect the freedoms that have long been the hallmark of our nation, or do we go even further back in history — not just to the 1850s, but to the 1850s.”

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow urged support for the legislation, saying women should be able to make decisions about their own health care, lives and futures.

“That is what this vote is about, and we will not give up until these freedoms are fully protected,” Stabenow said.

No Republican senators spoke during the debate on the bill preceding the vote.

This two-page bill it would not change or provide nationwide protection for access to abortion.

If passed, the bill would reflect “Congress’ sense” that abortion rights “should be supported” and that the nationwide constitutional protections for abortion established in Roe v. Wade “should be restored and expanded, moving toward a future of reproductive freedom for all.”

Biden Administration released Administration policy statement from earlier this week supporting the bill.

“More than 20 states now have dangerous and extreme abortion bans, some without exceptions for rape or incest,” the statement reads. “Women are being denied necessary medical care, including emergency care, or forced to travel thousands of miles out of state to receive care that would be available if Roe were still in effect in the country. Doctors and nurses face prison sentences.”

Three bills offered, blocked

Wednesday’s stalled procedural vote came just a day after Democrats gathered to try to pass three other reproductive rights bills through an expedited unanimous consent process.

This involves one senator asking for “unanimous consent” to pass a bill. Any senator can then object, blocking the bill from passing. If no one objects, the bill is passed.

The maneuver is typically used to approve broad bipartisan measures or to allow lawmakers to draw attention to legislation without taking it through the time-consuming process of closing debate, which can take weeks in the Senate.

Nevada State Senator Catherine Cortez Masto tried unsuccessfully to push through her Billwhich would prevent the government from preventing travel “to another state to receive or obtain reproductive health care that is legal in this state.”

The bill was co-authored by forty Democratic or independent senators.

During a brief floor debate, Cortez Masto said the bill “reaffirms that women have a fundamental right to interstate travel and makes clear that states cannot prosecute women — or anyone who assists them — for traveling to another state to obtain necessary reproductive care.”

“Elected officials in states like Tennessee, Texas and Alabama are trying to punish women for leaving their state for reproductive care, as well as anyone who helps them, including their doctors and even their employers,” Cortez Masto said. “Why? Because for these anti-abortion politicians, it’s about controlling women.”

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, opposed the unanimous consent request, saying that while members of the anti-abortion movement “certainly do not oppose anyone’s freedom to travel throughout this great country,” they had concerns that the measure would make it harder to prosecute crimes such as human trafficking.

“Bill would take us back,” Budd says

Republicans blocked the second Billsponsored by Murray that would prevent states from preventing, restricting, hindering, or discriminating against health care providers from providing “reproductive health care services that are lawful in the state in which the services are to be provided.”

The bill was supported by 30 Democratic and independent senators.

“When I talk to abortion providers in Spokane, where they see a lot of patients fleeing restrictive abortion bans in states like Idaho, they’re terrified that they could be facing a lawsuit that would threaten their practice and their livelihood, just for doing their job, just for providing the care that their patients need — care that is, once again, completely legal in my state,” Murray said. “We’re talking about people who are law-abiding and just want to provide care for their patients. That should be obvious.”

North Carolina Republican Senator Ted Budd opposed the request, arguing that the bill would “make it easier to end unborn life.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs brought new hope to Americans who believe in the sanctity of all life, including life in the womb,” Budd said. “But this bill would set us back.”

After Budd opposed the bill, Murray said his actions “made it clear” that GOP lawmakers “have no problem with politicians attacking doctors in states like mine where abortion is legal.”

“I think that gives a lot of the game away,” Murray added.

Scholarship program

Democrats also tried to push through legislation from Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin that would establish a federal grant program to augment the number of health care providers who receive “comprehensive training in abortion care.”

The bill had seven co-sponsors – Democrats or independents – in the Senate.

“For our top medical schools, the post-Roe reality has thrown them into chaos as students and their faculty wonder how future physicians in our state will have access to the full range of training necessary to practice obstetrics and gynecology safely,” Baldwin said.

The Republican senator from Kansas, an obstetrician-gynecologist, blocked the proposal, saying the federal government “should not be spending taxpayer dollars to encourage medical students and clinicians to take life when their primary duty, their sacred oath, is to protect life and do no harm from conception to natural death.”

Repeated attempts throughout 2024

Democrats have tried to pass legislation on access to contraception and in vitro fertilization despite a 60-vote legislative filibuster earlier this year, and each time they have failed to gain the necessary Republican support.

In early June, the Democrats he tried to get promoted legislation that would protect “an individual’s ability to access contraceptives” and “the ability of a health care provider to provide contraceptives, contraception, and contraception-related information.”

A week later, the Democrats I tried againthis time with legislation that would give people the right to access in vitro fertilization and doctors the ability to provide such health care without “harmful or unreasonable restrictions or requirements” by the state or federal government.

Collins and Murkowski were the only Republicans to vote to send the bills to a final vote.

Alabama Republican Senator Katie Britt he tried to pass in mid-June, through a unanimous procedure, the adoption of a law on access to in vitro fertilization, but it failed to get through.

That bill, which she co-sponsored with Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, would bar the state from receiving Medicaid funds if it prevented in vitro fertilization.

The bill, which had three co-sponsors Wednesday, does not say what would happen to states’ Medicaid funding if lawmakers or a state court define life as beginning at conception.

That’s what caused in vitro fertilization clinics in Alabama to close earlier this year after the state Supreme Court ruled that embryos frozen at in vitro fertilization clinics are children under state law.

Alabama has already enacted civil and criminal laws protecting in vitro fertilization clinics.

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Latest Posts