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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer AP/PA Images
US abortion rights

US Republicans block contentious Senate abortion rights vote

All 50 Republicans and one of the 50 Democrats voted not to consider the legislation.

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.

The House-passed Women’s Health Protection Act would have created a federal statute ensuring access to terminations for patients nationwide — but all 50 Republicans and one of the 50 Democrats voted not to consider the legislation.

The vote was called last week by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court’s readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision.

It’s chances of passing were considered slim to none, given the blocking power of Republicans in an evenly divided 100-seat Senate where key legislation almost always faces a 60-vote threshold.

Republican-controlled states have taken steps to restrict abortion rights in recent months, given that overturning Roe v Wade would give states the ability to make their own laws on abortion.

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.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said “we will never give in” to Republican efforts to roll back abortion rights protections.

“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.

The southern state of Mississippi will ban abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or danger to the life of the mother, Republican Governor Tate Reeves told NBC Sunday.

But looking forward, “we must prove that being pro-life is not just about anti-abortion,” 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.”

Now, he told Fox News, “finally elected officials have a say about life and the conditions of an abortion. I think that’s the way it should be.”

According to a poll released Friday by the Pew Research Center, about 61% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in all or most circumstances.

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% of Republicans who do, Pew said.

© AFP 2022 

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