by Marie Claire Jalonik
WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats’ abortion law is “too simple” because it would incorporate the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision into federal law that legalized abortion nationwide.
Senate Democrats moved swiftly to try to codify the 50-year-old ruling after a draft US Supreme Court opinion suggested the court was set to reverse the case last week. But they were unable to overcome the bill’s GOP filibuster, falling far short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation in Wednesday’s 51-49 vote.
If democratic legislation became law at some point, it would have done more than just maintain the status quo.
The bill would also expand protections, invalidating several state laws that Democrats and abortion rights advocates say violated the original 1973 rule. Two Republican senators who support abortion rights have indicated they will not vote for it, instead supporting their own, narrower legislation.
A look at the legislation blocked by Senate Republicans on Wednesday:
Coding Roe v. Wade
Broadly speaking, the main purpose of the law is to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, which means the Supreme Court would be much harder to overturn. In the five decades the ruling has been court precedent, abortion rights advocates have not been able to pass federal legislation to legalize abortion. And because the Supreme Court has ruled on that right, it can take it away – however rare such a move may be.
In codifying Roe, the law would establish that health care providers have the right to provide abortion services and that patients have the right to obtain abortions.
some restrictions on
The Democrats’ bill would also eliminate some state laws they say in the original Roe v. Wade decision, which they say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortion. The court has allowed states to regulate but not prohibit abortion before the point of viability around 24 weeks, resulting in a variety of state laws and restrictions that abortion-rights advocates oppose.
The bill would prevent restrictions before 24 weeks, in addition to any restrictions that do not make an exception to the health or life of the patient. It would also prevent states from asking providers to share “medically incorrect” information, or by requiring additional testing or waiting periods intended to prevent a patient from having an abortion.
Unlike most of his GOP colleagues, Maine’s Republican sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska support abortion rights. But he opposes the Democratic law, saying it is too broad and could threaten some religious freedoms that states have sought to protect.
They have introduced legislation of their own that would be closer to what the court currently allows, typically prohibiting states from imposing an “unreasonable burden” on a woman’s ability to perform an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus. At the moment it is not expected to get votes, but both women say they are still working on the alternative.
Without the votes to pass their bill, Democrats have few other options to block the final court decision if it overturns Roe v. Wade. He has promised to continue trying to stop it.
Democratic leaders have indicated their best option is to battle voters before this year’s midterms.
“We have to win the election,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, said Tuesday.
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.