Bill to make abortion a federal right voted down by Republicans – and one Democrat

The US Senate has failed to pass a bill that would preserve access to abortion.

The Democrat-led Women’s Health Protection Act bill failed by a tally of 49 to 51 on Wednesday (11 May), with no Republicans voting yes on the bill.

Democratic representative Judy Chu first introduced the bill in September 2021 as a way to “protect a person’s ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services.”

A modified version, sponsored by senator Richard Blumenthal on May 3, was the one voted upon this week.

The White House released a statement after the vote, with president Joe Biden condemning the failure as an “unprecedented attack.

“Republicans in Congress – not one of whom voted for this bill – have chosen to stand in the way of American’s rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families, and lives,” Biden wrote. “To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House.”

Republicans weren’t the only ones to vote against the bill, with West Virginia’s Democrat senator Joe Manchin choosing to stop the advancement of the bill.

Manchin told CNN he would vote no, arguing the legislation was too broad.

The moderate Democrat has previously urged colleagues to “focus on budget issues instead of social issues.

“On many of these social issues, I will [be] the first to admit that I am more conservative than others in the Congress. I am pro-life, and proud of it,” Manchin said in a statement.

Additional no voters included Senate minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who criticised the bill, arguing: “It would overturn modest and overwhelmingly popular safeguards like waiting periods, informed consent laws, and possibly even parental notification.”

Republican abortion-rights supporters senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also voted no, having also voted against the initial bill in February.

Senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who voted yes on the bill, urged colleagues to consider the importance of this vote. “This is not an abstract exercise, it’s as real and as urgent as it gets,” Schumer said in a broadcast last Friday.