WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Senate will vote on Wednesday (May 11) on a national abortion rights Bill – a process likely doomed to fail – after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court’s readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has called the draft ruling an “abomination”, said he has teed up the vote on codifying the right to abortion in America, which the conservative-majority court appears poised to ban.
The prospects of success are virtually zero, given the blocking power of Republicans in an evenly divided 100-seat Senate where key legislation almost always faces a 60-vote threshold.
But the vote will nonetheless put lawmakers on record regarding one of the country’s most divisive issues, and Democrats hope the debate will galvanise voters to go to the polls in the midterm elections exactly six months from Sunday.
“We will vote on Wednesday, and every American will see how every senator stands. They can’t duck it anymore,” Mr Schumer said at a press conference Sunday in New York.
“Now they have to show which side they’re on.”
Top congressional Democrat Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, reiterated her outrage about the court’s upcoming likely decision, telling CBS News on Sunday that “the court has slapped women in the face in terms of disrespect for their judgments about the size and timing of their families”.
With Democrats lacking the necessary majority to push through codification, the only other option would appear to be changing Senate rules to lower the number of votes required to pass such a Bill.
But Republicans – and a few senators in President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party – oppose such a move.
“We are half-citizens under this ruling,” she told CNN, referring to the draft opinion. “And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.” Several conservative states are already shifting.
But looking forward, “we must prove that being pro-life is not just about anti-abortion”, Mr Reeves said, by making sure expectant mothers and newborns have the resources they need.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the Roe decision has sown division for decades because it “created a constitutional right that doesn’t exist in the written constitution”.
But, as with so many other social issues, the gap between Democrats and Republicans is wide, and growing wider. Eight in 10 Democrats support abortion rights in all or most cases, more than double the 38 per cent of Republicans who do, Pew said.