Abortion Rights Bill Updates: Two GOP Senators Have Own Bill to Codify Roe v. Wade

Live Updates
  • The U.S. Senate voted against advancing the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill that will have codified Roe v. Wade to protect abortion rights.
  • This comes after a draft opinion was leaked, indicating that the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe, the fundamental abortion rights case in the U.S.
  • The bill would have ended certain strict anti-abortion state laws, including laws that ban abortions earlier than 24 weeks and do not make exceptions.
  • With a 49-51 vote, the bill was blocked, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster from Republicans.
Abortion Rights Protesters at Senate
Abortion-rights demonstrators protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats plan take up a bill May 11 that would codify abortion rights in federal law, but it is all but certain to come up short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Live Updates Have Ended.

Two GOP Senators Have Own Bill to Codify Roe v. Wade

Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill to codify Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Both voted against the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday.

"I support codifying the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey," Collins said. "That's not what the Women's Health Protection Act would do."

"Unlike some far-left activists, Senator Murkowski and I want the law today to be the law tomorrow. That's why we introduced legislation in February that would enshrine the important Roe and Casey protections into law without undercutting statutes that have been in place for decades and without eliminating basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections to performing abortions."

The Senators introduced the bill called the Reproductive Choice Act on February 28.

"I have always supported a woman's right to choose, the precedents established by Roe v. Wade, and the limitations the Supreme Court has placed on laws regarding abortion services," Murkowski said.

"With the Supreme Court set to rule on an abortion-related case later this year, we should codify current protections into law so that women can be confident their reproductive freedoms will not be abruptly reduced or eliminated."

Their bill would not affect laws pertaining to conscience protections and would prohibit states from imposing an "undue burden on the ability of a woman to choose" to have an abortion prior to fetal viability.

Sen. Cruz 'Proud to Oppose' Abortion Bill

All Republican Senators voted against the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he was "proud to oppose" the bill.

"Let's be very clear: Today's vote would not codify Roe v. Wade," Cruz said. "It would go much further, eradicating the common-sense abortion laws that Texans and others have enacted through the democratic process."

"The Democrats' extreme pro-abortion bill would require that abortion be legal up until the moment of birth, without exceptions. This is such a radical position that over 80 percent of Americans oppose it, including some Democrats in Congress. I'm proud to be pro-life and proud to oppose this extreme bill."

Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said her vote against the bill "stood up to the woke mob and voted to protect women and their unborn children."

"Today's vote on the Women's Health Protection Act is a continuation of the left's mission to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and prop up their abortion-on-demand agenda," she said.

"This bill would force states to legalize late-term abortions, remove informed consent laws, and prevent restrictions on gruesome fetal dismemberment procedures."

VP Harris Says Senate is 'Not With Majority of Americans'

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to reporters outside the Senate chamber after the Women's Health Protection Act to protect abortion rights was blocked.

"Sadly, the Senate failed to stand in defense of a woman's right to make decisions about her own body," she said.

Harris added that, "the majority of the American people believe in defending a women's right, her choice to decide what happen to her own body."

She said that this vote shows that the Senate is "not where the majority of American's are on these issues."

The priority for those who care about abortion access, Harris said, should be to elect "pro-choice leaders" at the local, state and federal levels.

"What we are seeing around this country are extremist Republicans who are seeking to criminalize and punish women for making decisions about their own body," she said.

Harris Outside Senate
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to reporters while departing the Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022. A Democratic drive to make the right to abortion the law of the land failed in the US Senate on Wednesday after Republicans refused to allow a vote on the deeply polarizing issue. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Biden Says More Pro-Choice Senators Need to Be Elected

President Joe Biden condemned Republican Senators who voted against the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday.

"Republicans in Congress – not one of whom voted for this bill – have chosen to stand in the way of Americans' rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives," Biden said in a statement after the vote.

"This failure to act comes at a time when women's constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack, and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people."

The bill failed with a 49-51 vote. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill, along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Biden said his administration will continue fighting to protect women's reproductive care as recognized in Roe v. Wade. He also urged Americans to vote for Senators who are pro-choice amid the 2022 midterms.

"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," Biden said. "If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law."

Senate Votes Against Bill Protecting Abortion Rights

The Senate has voted against the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill that would have codified Roe v. Wade to protect abortion rights. The bill failed with a 49-51 vote.

The bill was expected to fall short as 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. The bill comes amid a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted no.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made the final remarks on the Senate floor before the vote Wednesday afternoon.

"If we don't take a stand now... it will be open season on our God-given freedoms in this great and grand country," he warned before yielding the floor.

Senate abortion vote
The tally of a Senate vote that was taken on the Senate floor is shown, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at the Capitol in Washington. Senate TV via AP

Senate Floor Mostly Empty Amid Vote

Despite the attention surrounding the vote on the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday, the Senate floor is mostly empty.

The atmosphere in the Senate is "dull," according to reporters present. The floor is nearly empty as most Senators are not present in their seats. There are also no reports of any protests.

In the gallery, there are some reporters and young staffers.

The abortion bill has been expected to fail, as Democrats could not get 60 votes.

Senate Votes on Abortion Bill

The Senate is voting to proceed with the abortion bill.

The Women's Health Protection Act requires 60 votes to advance passed the Republican's filibuster.

Vice President Kamala Harris is presiding over the vote.

Schumer Calls Vote 'One of the Most Consequential' in Decades

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the Women's Health Protection Act vote "one of the most consequential" in decades.

"Today's vote is one of the most consequential we will take in decades because for the first time in 50 years, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court is on the brink of declaring that women do not have freedom over their own bodies," he said in a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

He said overturning Roe v. Wade is one of the "longest steps back" in the Court's history.

"This decision, if formalized, would be remembered as one of the worst and most damaging cases in the entire history of the Supreme Court," he said.

Schumer added that this vote "is not a theoretical exercise."

He said the American people will "not forget what side of the vote Senators fall on today," those responsible for defending freedoms and those responsible for a major "backslide in civil liberties."

Schumer said this bill is a response to "radical" state abortion legislation across the country.

"We must oppose the vision that MAGA Republicans clamor for: forced pregnancies, punishment for women and doctors, and zero exceptions for rape or incest," he said.

He added that, "this is not what American wants" and urged his colleagues and the public to defend the right to choose.

"We cannot allow this shameful backslide to happen," Schumer said.

Pro-Choice Activists Protest Ahead of Senate Vote

A group of abortion rights activists again protested outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday ahead of the Senate's vote on legislation aiming to protect abortion rights.

Members of Amnesty International gathered with signs Wednesday reading "abortion is a human right." The group delivered petitions to the Senate "demanding" abortion protections.

"Abortion is safe and normal healthcare and is a human right," Amnesty International USA tweeted Wednesday. "There is no women's equality, LGBT equality, racial equality, no economic equality without the right to abortion."

Abortion rights protest
Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Abortion protest
Abortion rights activist protests outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Washington. Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Tuesday, abortion rights activists marched from the Supreme Court to the U.S. Capitol, advocating against abortion bans and for right to choose.

Abortion protest
Abortion-rights demonstrators march to the U.S. Capitol from the Supreme Court building on May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

House Democrats March to Senate Ahead of Vote

Several dozen House Democrats marched over to the Senate chamber ahead of Wednesday's abortion bill vote.

The group of mostly female lawmakers chanted "my body, my decision" through Congress, led by Representative Rashida Tlaib.

Among the lawmakers were Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, Val Demings, Cheri Bustos, Katherine Clark, David Ciciline, Mark Takano, Andriano Espaillat and Veronica Escobar.

According to reporters in Congress, some representatives sat quietly on the Senate floor while other watched from in the galleries.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly thanked the lawmakers for being there.

Sen. Grassley Says Senate is 'Wasting Time' with Abortion Bill

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the abortion bill before the Senate is being discussed for "political purposes."

He said Senators are "wasting time" on this issue and could rather be spending time on what the American people want.

Grassley said Democrats should be pushing debate on getting prescription drug prices down instead of "wasting time" on this legislation.

He said that Democrats are using the leaked Supreme Court document to "push radical legislation" that goes beyond the public opinion and common-sense abortion laws.

Grassley said he is "uncomfortable" with the rhetoric of his colleagues because it does not discuss what the American people want.

He added that it will push "one extreme option."

"I don't think this bill is common sense," he said during an address on the Senate floor. "Because it allows for later-term abortion up to the day of birth."

He added that the law would eliminate common-sense abortion laws in several states that protect religious objections to providing abortions and other "life-saving laws."

Sen. Lankford Says Turtle Eggs Protected, But Not Babies

U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) questioned why turtle and eagle eggs are protected under federal law, but the "destruction" of children is allowed. His speech on the Senate floor was made less than one hour before the Senate is scheduled to vote on pending abortion legislation.

While in Oklahoma over the weekend, Lankford had a conversation with an individual who is pro-choice and wanted to discuss abortion rights. He shared part of their conversation on the Senate floor.

"If you destroy a turtle egg, it's a federal offense with a very big fine," Lankford said. "If you destroy an eagle egg, it's a very big offense with a federal fine. Do you find that odd?" he asked the individual. "But we allow the destruction of children?"

To Lankford's "shock" the individual responded that "turtles and eagles are endangered, so they should be protected," he said.

Lankford said he's been called a "radical extremist" because he believes babies are "valuable," pointing to a series of large photographs of babies behind him on a poster board.

Lankford
Sen. James Lankford discusses abortion on the Senate floor on May 11. CSPAN

Sen. Joe Manchin to Oppose Abortion Bill

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he plans to oppose the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday.

"We're going to be voting for a piece of legislation that I will not be voting for today," Manchin told reporters.

"But I would vote for a Roe v. Wade codification if it was today," he said. "I was hopeful for that, but I found out yesterday in caucus that that wasn't going to be," Manchin added.

He said the bill is not Roe v. Wade codification, but "an expansion."

"Make no mistake. It is not Roe v. Wade codification. It's an expansion," he said. "It wipes 500 state laws off the books. It expands abortion."

Manchin added this bill was furthering "dividing the country."

"It's the politics of Congress that's dividing the country, it's not the people," he said. "They are telling us what they want."