Schumer says vote to save Roe is not an ‘abstract exercise’ and ‘is as real and as high stakes as it gets’

Democrats are pushing for their legislation to codify the protections in Roe v Wade despite little likelihood it can pass

Schumer says Senate vote to save Roe ‘is real and high stakes’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democratic Senators’ vote to codify the protections of Roe v Wade is not mere grandstanding.

The Democratic Senate filed cloture, a procedure which limits debate to break a filibuster, on the Women’s Health Protection Act. This comes despite the fact that Democrats have only 50 votes and cannot break the 60-vote threshold to end a filibuster.

“I want to be clear: this week’s vote is not an abstract exercise; this is as real and as high stakes as it gets, and Senate Republicans will no longer be able to hide from the horror they’ve unleashed upon women in America,” he said.

Mr Schumer also cited the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told USA Today over the weekend that a national ban on abortion is “possible” if Roe v Wade is overturned.

But Mr McConnell said in the interview and in a floor speech that he would not get rid of the filibuster to pass such legislation.

“I will never, never support smashing the legislative filibuster on this issue or any other,” Mr McConnell said. “Yet Democrats want to wreck our institutions over their fringe position that Americans do not share.

Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said it was important to show that Democrats are fighting to protect the right to an abortion insured by Roe v Wade. Last week, a Supreme Court draft opinion leaked showing that the court planned to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

“It is important for Americans and voters to know where their Senators stand on this critical issue,” she told The Independent. “Because it is important to show that we are fighting and this is only the first step in the fight but it’s also important to show which side Senators are on.”

Under the legislation, state governments would not be allowed to restrict abortion providers’ ability to prescribe certain drugs for abortion, offer services via telemedicine or immediately provide abortion services if providers determine a delay could harm the parent’s life.

It also prohibits state governments from requiring abortion providers to perform unnecessary medical procedures, provide scientifically inaccurate information about abortions; have credentials that are not directly related to providing abortions; or carry out all services related to an abortion.

But Democrats, who only have 50 votes, will likely not be able to break the 60-vote threshold to stop a filibuster. Earlier this year, Senator Joe Manchin voted against the legislation.

“It’s pretty much always a numbers game,” Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told reporters. “We need more Democratic pro-choice Senators is what we need.”

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, one of only two Democratic Senators who did not co-sponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act, said he would vote to allow the legislation to move forward.

“We’ve got, this is one vote,” Mr Casey told reporters. Mr Casey is one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in the Senate. His father, former Governor Bob Casey Sr, was opposed to abortion rights and his name is on the title of Planned Parenthood v Casey, the 1993 Supreme Court case that upheld Roe and said abortion restrictions could not impose an “undue burden.”

But Republican Senator Susan Collins, who has her own legislation along with fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski to codify Roe, criticised Democratic Senators’ response to her concerns. Last week, Ms Collins said she was concerned that Democrats’ legislation would supersede state and federal legislation which protects against people and hospitals that might object to performing an abortion, such as Catholic hospitals.

“That’s not correct,” she said. “They must have misread their legislation.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, the lead sponsor on the Women’s Health Protection Act, said it was not a matter of Ms Collins’ vote because she is just one of 10 votes Democrats would need to break a filibuster.

“So fundamentally, the filibuster is front and centre,” he said. Mr Blumenthal said that abortion rights being under threat and the vote could motivate people to turn out in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Unquestionably, the Roe opinion that has been leaked already and the final opinion that’s likely will ignite a firestorm of electoral energy and I think will be a major motivator,” he said.

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