US Democrats throw down gauntlet with symbolic abortion vote

Senator Amy Klobuchar, pictured at a rally in favor of abortion rights outside the US Supreme Court in May 2022, is urging voters to protect abortion access through the ballot box

Democrats in the US Senate were due to lead a vote Wednesday to codify the right to abortion into federal law in a bid to pin down Republicans on the deeply divisive issue ahead of crucial midterm elections, even though they expect the measure to fail.

The move comes amid a political firestorm ignited by a leaked draft opinion that showed the Supreme Court’s conservative majority prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling guaranteeing abortion access nationwide.

“Before the day is over, every member of this body will make a choice: vote to protect the fundamental rights of women across the country, or stand with five conservative justices ready to destroy these rights in one fell swoop,” he said.

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But the 60 votes needed to advance the debate towards a final yes or no vote in the evenly-divided, 100-member Senate are not there.

The only two Republican supporters of abortion rights — senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — opposed a near-identical earlier version along with Manchin.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has 53 percent of voters saying Roe should not be overturned, up three percentage points since last week, while 58 percent said it was important to vote for a candidate who supports abortion access.

“By striking down Roe, this is likely to create a new constituency of pro-choice voters who are activated to turn out and donate in ways that they would not normally in a midterm election.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested a federal abortion ban is “possible” if Roe is overturned.

But Democrats seized on the initial remark, arguing that highlighting their disagreement with Republicans could help them in the midterms, with the majority of Americans supporting abortion rights.

“We march straight to the ballot box, and the women of this country and the men who stand with them will vote like they’ve never voted before.”

Multiple organizations that support abortion rights have called for a “massive day of action” on Saturday, with marches in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as hundreds of smaller events nationwide.

The leaked opinion is also spawning renewed calls by Democrats and progressives to add justices to the court, fueled by the possibility that the justices will not stop with Roe v. Wade and could overturn other landmark decisions.

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