Senate blocks bill that would protect access to abortion

Abortion rights activists rally and march in Atlanta on Saturday. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Abortion rights activists rally and march in Atlanta on Saturday. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Georgia’s Ossoff and Warnock voted yes with all but one Democrat

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Senate bill to protect access to abortion nationally didn’t receive majority support during a procedural vote Wednesday.

Every Senate Republican plus Democrat Joe Manchin opposed the measure, which would also prohibit states from enacting measures interpreted as impeding access to abortion services or limiting providers’ ability to perform procedures.

Manchin said he would have supported different language that was focused more narrowly on protecting the privacy rights cited in the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

“I would vote for a Roe v Wade codification if it was today,” he told reporters prior to the vote. “I was hopeful for that, but I found out yesterday in caucus that wasn’t going to be.”

A leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling on a pending abortion case indicated that five conservative justices support overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing states to implement laws that could curtail or even eliminate access to abortions.

That created renewed interest among Democrats to pass a federal abortion bill, but there isn’t a clear path forward because Senate rules require the support of 60 members for bills to proceed to a floor vote.

Wednesday’s procedural vote failed, with 51 against and 49 in favor. Georgia’s senators, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both voted in favor of the legislation.

Warnock said afterward that he will keep working to protect abortion rights.

“Deeply disappointed that our Republican colleagues blocked us from taking action, but we will not be deterred,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’ll keep fighting.”

The U.S. House has already passed a federal abortion bill with every Republican voting “no.” Several Democratic women, including U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, marched to the Senate side of the Capitol ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

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