May 12, 2022

Senate Abortion Bill

Legislation to make abortion legal throughout the United States was defeated in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday… All 50 Republicans voted to block the bill. They were joined by one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the bill, and notes that it appears to be gaining support.

“In its demise the WHPA joins two voting-rights measures, a minimum-wage bill, and the giant Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill (which is not subject to a filibuster, but lacks necessary support from [Senators] Manchin and Krysten Sinema). All of these relatively popular measures were touted as potentially history-making necessities by Democratic lawmakers, then left for dead after totally predictable failed Senate votes

“Schumer keeps beating his head against a West Virginia–shaped wall to show the base that he is at least attempting to do the right thing, though Manchin will not let him. The impetus to try, try again is particularly strong since core Democratic constituencies face dire, immediate threats, including state voting restrictions, punitive polices toward immigrants and refugees, and bans on abortion services. By bringing up doomed progressive legislation, Schumer is trying to send the message that he and his party care.”

Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

“[Senators] Collins and Murkowski offered up a tepid one-and-a-half page alternative bill that has been rejected by Schumer and more than a dozen abortion rights and civil rights advocacy groups. Their bill codifies Roe into law and prevents a state from imposing an undue burden on women seeking abortions. That language is too vague. The Supreme Court decision in Casey says the same thing and yet states have passed hundreds of restrictions that unduly burden people seeking an abortion, and providers as well…

“[By contrast] The Women’s Health Protection Act smartly lists numerous types of unnecessary prerequisites for abortion that will no longer be allowed and explicitly states a woman has a right to an abortion up to viability… [This] law that simply spells out the right to an abortion, which has been constitutionally guaranteed for half a century, is something every senator should support.”

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“The past couple of days have proven to be a bit more informative than many observers, including me, expected. For example, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, a longtime opponent of abortion rights, announced yesterday that he now supports the Women’s Health Protection Act and the effort to codify the status quo in federal law. (The Pennsylvanian previously voted to begin debate on the bill, but opposed the underlying proposal. Now, in ‘a major shift,’ he’s changed his mind.)…

“As for Congress’ most conservative Democrat, it’s no secret that Manchin has never been one of Congress’ proponents of reproductive rights… [But yesterday Manchin told] NBC News that he believes a ‘clean’ bill — with no extraneous provisions — to codify the Roe precedent would be ‘the reasonable rational thing to do.’…

“Legislation to codify Roe had been introduced in every Congress for a decade, but it had never received so much as a vote in committee. In this Congress, however, it passed the House, and received near-unanimous support from Senate Democrats. There’s no reason to think we’ve heard the last of this.”

Steve Benen, MSNBC

From the Right

The right opposes the bill, arguing that it goes much farther than Roe.

The right opposes the bill, arguing that it goes much farther than Roe.

The Women’s Health Protection Act is more extreme than Roe in two ways. In Roe, for example, the Supreme Court recognized that the ‘developing young in the human uterus’ makes abortion ‘inherently different’ from other privacy rights. The court referred to the unborn ‘child,’ ‘prenatal life,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘embryo,’ and ‘unborn children.’…

“These were not simply casual or random references. The state, then-Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, has an ‘important and legitimate interest’ in protecting human beings before birth… The Women’s Health Protection Act repudiates, rather than codifies, that critical element of Roe v. Wade…

“The Women’s Health Protection Act would also outlaw other measures that the Supreme Court has already upheld after Roe. In Casey, for example, the court upheld a parental consent requirement for minors seeking abortion, recognizing the state’s ‘important and legitimate interest’ in the welfare of minors. The Women’s Health Protection Act , in contrast, lists ‘parental involvement laws (notification and consent)’ among measures that ‘complicat[e] access to …  abortion services.’”

Thomas Jipping, Daily Signal

“A major reason for Collins’s opposition is that the bill overrides federal and state conscience laws regarding abortion. There are a number of conscience laws, most notably the Church Amendments and Weldon Amendment, that protect health-care workers, medical students, hospitals, and insurers from being coerced into performing, training to perform, assisting, paying, or referring for an abortion…

“The decision not to exempt the Weldon Amendment and the Church Amendments from the WHPA was no oversight. Groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood oppose the Weldon Amendment, and the Biden administration has dropped a case prosecuting a clear violation of the Church Amendments… The WHPA is to abortion what H.R. 1 was to voting rights: a sweeping bill that’s been sitting on the shelf for years and includes everything left-wing groups have ever wanted.”

John McCormack, National Review

“Why would you hold a vote on controversial legislation which is doomed to fail, which not even your entire caucus supports, and which is bound to put vulnerable incumbents in an awkward position no matter how they vote? He’s gift-wrapping this midterm talking point for the GOP: ‘Democrats’ abortion policy is so radical that even some Democrats couldn’t stomach it.’…

“The most bizarre part of this gambit is that Schumer does have legislative options that would make this a tough vote for Republicans more so than for his own party. If he put a bill on the floor that would actually codify Roe, he’d have Manchin’s support…

“He might have Susan Collins’s and Lisa Murkowski’s support too, which would flip the script and let Democrats argue that they’re the reasonable moderates with bipartisan support in this debate… [Instead] Republican challengers will hang this legislation around the necks of every purple-state Democrat in America.”

Allahpundit, Hot Air

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