(New York) Can a symbolic vote that ends in expected defeat help Democrats mobilize American voters for reproductive rights?
Posted yesterday at 7:00am
Opinions differ on this question. But that is indeed the strategy Democrats rolled out in the US Senate on Wednesday, nine days after the release of a Supreme Court document detailing the possible overthrow of Roe v. Wade, who has guaranteed women’s abortion rights in the United States since 1973.
By a vote of 49 to 51, the upper house of Congress torpedoed a bill that would prohibit states from limiting this right until the fetus is viable and allowing post-viability abortions for health reasons or to protect the life of the pregnant woman.
The vote was doomed to fail because of the rule known as the “filibuster,” which required Democrats to collect 60 out of 100 votes to advance to the next phase. The latter, however, did not even manage to get a simple majority.
The most conservative member of her faction, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, eventually added his vote to those of the 50 Republican senators.
In so doing, the Democrats will have allowed Republicans to claim a majority in the Senate on an issue on which polls show their opinion is at odds with that of the majority of Americans.
Never mind: Senate Democrat Chairman Chuck Schumer stressed the importance of this vote, which he says touches on one “of the most important questions voters will face this fall” during the midterm elections.
“A Dark and Oppressive Future”
“Before the end of the day, each member of this assembly will make a choice,” the New York State Democratic Senator said Wednesday morning from the Senate chamber. “Vote to protect the basic rights of women across the country or side with MAGA Republicans to lead our country into a dark and oppressive future. »
Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two pro-choice Republican senators, voted against the Democrats’ bill. The two politicians, representing Maine and Alaska respectively, reacted with dismay last week to the leak of a draft Supreme Court majority decision ruling Roe v. Wade. They then introduced their own bill that incorporated into federal law the two Supreme Court rulings on abortion: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
But Democrats rejected any compromise that might win their votes, as did Joe Manchin’s.
“The legislation introduced in the Senate today goes well beyond the precedents set by Roe and Casey,” Senator Murkowski said.
Not included is the Hyde Amendment, which bans spending taxpayers’ money on abortions – and which has been in place almost as long as Roe.
Lisa Murkowski, pro-choice Republican Senator
Although he opposes abortion, Senator Manchin said he had supported a law that passed the Roe v. Wade. When asked by a journalist how he reconciled this position with his opposition to abortion, he replied, alluding to the historic decision: “I think so [loi] that we’ve had for 50 years – that’s a precedent. »
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is among House of Lords Democrats who have opposed any compromise with Republicans, including Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. At least initially.
“Let’s start with the law that fully protects women who need access to abortions,” she said on CNN on Tuesday. “To cut back in this area first is the wrong approach. Women deserve full citizenship, full freedom, and tomorrow’s bill will provide them with just that. »
Some Republican Senate leaders have expressed real or feigned surprise at the Democrats’ strategy. In particular, they accused them of wanting to defend abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy.
“They’re not even trying to put nuance,” Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune said. “It’s abortion until birth, a position that is unlikely to convince people who could be convinced if they were less aggressive. »
Democrats could introduce other, more limited bills before or after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision is officially announced. One of the measures under consideration would protect women’s access to abortion pills, which could also be threatened in some states.
In the meantime, they don’t seem to question their strategy. After the Senate vote, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, hinted that Republicans will have to pay for opposing the bill.
“Democrats will never give up defending our fundamental freedoms — and the American people will remember those who have sought to punish and control women’s choices, and those who have fought tirelessly at their side as they face the next.” cast their ballots in November,” she said.
All of this remains to be seen.