Abortion Expansion Bill Fails in United States Senate

On February 28, 2022, Democrats in the United States Senate failed in their efforts to pass a federal abortion expansion bill.

Misleadingly known as the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), the bill would ensure that abortion remains legal in all 50 states and at all stages of pregnancy, even if the infamous Roe v. Wade decision is overturned or weakened by the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition, the WHPA would dismantle state laws across the country that place limits on abortion availability. Such laws include informed consent laws, pre-abortion waiting periods, and late-term abortion bans. The WHPA has been introduced in various forms since 2013, but it did not receive a floor vote in either chamber until the House of Representatives passed it last September.

A procedural vote known as a cloture vote was held on the WHPA. Under Senate rules, the bill was required to receive 60 votes to advance. The cloture vote failed, with 46 (pro-abortion) votes in favor and 48 (pro-life) votes in opposition. Forty-six Senate Democrats—including New York’s U.S. senators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—voted to advance the WHPA. Opposition to the WHPA was bipartisan; all 47 Republicans that were present voted against the bill, as did Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Even Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), each of whom supports abortion, voted against the extreme provisions of the WHPA. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called the WHPA “an attack against the health of women & unborn children.”

The outcome of Monday’s vote on the WHPA was not in doubt. Why, then, did Senate Democrats hold a vote in the first place? Comments made by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a lead sponsor of the WHPA, provide some insight on this question: “‘The American people deserve to see that while Democrats are fighting to protect their constitutional rights, Republicans are hoping the Supreme Court rolls back Roe and are actively blocking Congress from acting to protect reproductive rights.’” Along similar lines, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) commented: “‘Abortion is a fundamental right and women’s decisions over women’s healthcare belong to women, not to extremist rightwing legislators. Every American deserves to know where their senator stands on an issue as important as the right to choose.’”

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms wholeheartedly disagrees with Sens. Baldwin and Schumer on abortion. When it comes to the Women’s Health Protection Act, however, we agree that each American voter should know how his U.S. senator voted. More specifically, each American voter should know whether his U.S. senator voted with Planned Parenthood or whether his U.S. senator voted to protect the most defenseless members of our society: The unborn. Each American voter should also know that in the midst of high inflation, the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an unjust war in Eastern Europe, pro-abortion senators wasted precious time voting on an abortion expansion proposal that had no chance of passage. The WHPA vote is a vote that pro-life Americans should remember on Election Day.