Bill to Codify Roe v. Wade Fails to Get 50 Votes in Senate

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2022. (Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Legislation to make codify Roe v. Wade throughout the United States was defeated in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, amid solid Republican opposition.

Democrats had sought to head off an impending Supreme Court opinion that is expected to overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision. Wednesday’s effort was a protest gesture that never stood much chance of success.

With only 49 votes in support and 51 against, the bill was short of even achieving a majority, and was 11 short of the 60 votes needed to be fully debated in the 100-member Senate.

All 50 Republicans voted to block the bill. They were joined by one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin.

Before the vote, more than two dozen House Democrats, mainly women, marched from the House of Representatives to the Senate chanting slogans in support of the bill. They then entered the Senate chamber and sat quietly along a back wall while senators debated the bill.

Although the Senate defeat was widely expected, Democrats hope the vote will help propel more of their candidates to victory in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, as public opinion polls show deep support among voters for to maintain these rights. That, in turn, could bolster future attempts to legalize it through legislation.

America’s decades-old battle over  exploded anew last week when the Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of a draft opinion that signaled it will soon overturn Roe v. Wade.

Such a decision would leave it up to individual states to determine their policies.

The high-court ruling is expected by the end of its current term, which usually concludes in late June.

Following the vote, Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters in the Capitol: “Sadly, the Senate failed to stand in defense of a woman’s right… what we are seeing around this country are extremist Republican leaders seeking to criminalize and punish women for making decisions….” about their personal choices.

Republican Senator John Cornyn said that the bill goes further than Roe v. Wade and essentially makes the procedure available on demand throughout the stages of gestation.

Closed-door talks were held on a possible compromise bill, although it was unclear whether Democratic and Republican negotiators would be able to come to agreement, much less lure the 60 votes needed for any such measure.

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