The Senate was unable to pass the proposed ban on abortions after twenty weeks.
By a vote of 51 to 46, the measure fell well short of the 60-vote threshold required for the Senate to break a Democratic filibuster. The outcome was not a surprise, and the vote fell mostly along party lines.
The Senate voted on a similar measure in 2015. At that time three Democrats — Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — voted in favor of it. All three are up for re-election this year in states that Mr. Trump carried, and all of them voted in favor of the measure again on Monday. Two Republicans — Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted against it.
The bill, which has the strong backing of the Trump administration, is identical to one that passed the House in October and similar to legislation that has been adopted in 20 states. It would make nearly all abortions after 20 weeks illegal; anyone who performed the procedure could face a potential prison term of five years, fines or both, though exceptions could be made when the life of the mother was at risk, or in cases of rape or incest.
“To those who believe in this issue, we will be back for another day,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chief sponsor of the bill, said in advance of the vote. To his colleagues who supported the measure, he said: “You’re on the right side of history. You’re where America will be. It’s just a matter of time before we get there.”
The Senate floor debate offered supporters and opponents of abortion rights an opportunity to speak expansively about Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion — and they took it.
“Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade, abortions are safer today than getting your tonsils out,” declared Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. “A lot of women are alive today because of Roe.” She called the ban “part of a broad and sustained assault by Republican politicians on women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies.”
It’s no coincidence that the Republicans brought the bill to the Senate floor now, at the beginning of the campaign year for the mid-terms. They wanted a sound bite for the ads they’re planning to run against Democrats defending their seats in red states such as Indiana and Missouri.
It’s no surprise whatsoever that the GOP would do it. That’s not the issue. What is the issue is that they would keep trying to exploit the people who are in the throes of making one of the most difficult decisions in their lives, if not the most personal and private, and hold it hostage to a political campaign.
But in the era of Trump, it’s to be expected.