The US Senate on Wednesday failed to advance legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law. Both Texas senators voted in line with their party to block the bill.
Last week, the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in February was confirmed as authentic. It indicated the court’s conservative majority’s intention to strike down the protections enshrined by Roe v. Wade.
The vote was largely a symbolic move by the Democrats to mobilize Americans around the issue ahead of the final ruling that is expected this summer. It also made public the stance taken by each senator.
Alongside conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, all Republican senators voted against the measure, bringing the final tally to 49-51. 60 votes would be necessary to overcome the filibuster.
Ahead of the vote, Texas Sen. John Cornyn argued that Roe v. Wade “promotes abortion at a scale far beyond Roe v. Wade and far beyond what the vast majority of the American people are comfortable with.”
Over the weekend, fellow Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had described the legislation as a “radical abortion bill.”
“Sadly the Senate failed to stand in defense of a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,” Kamala Harris, the first woman and woman of color to serve as vice-president, told reporters outside of the Senate chamber, where she presided over the doomed vote. Pointing to the onslaught of laws restricting abortion access in Republican-led states, Harris said that “the priority should be to elect pro-choice leaders at the local, the state and the federal level.”
Texas is among 13 states to have passed so-called trigger laws. Gov. Greg Abbott in July 2021 signed House Bill 1280 into law. A near-total abortion ban would take effect 30 days after the high court decision or if a court ruling or amendment allowed for states to individually prohibit abortions.
The Texas ban would mean anyone who performs an abortion would face time in prison or a $100,000 fine. There are no exceptions for women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or are at risk of self-harm or suicide. Women who face death or have a life-threatening physical condition due to pregnancy are excluded from the ban.