- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A bill to wipe out abortion restrictions nationwide took center stage Wednesday as Senate Democrats teed up a bill that has virtually no chance of passage but allows both sides to play to their base.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his intent to block a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which passed the House last year. The vote is expected to take place at 3 p.m.

“Democrats have decided to line up behind an extreme and radical abortion policy,” said Mr. McConnell in his floor remarks. “Our Democratic colleagues want to vote on abortion on demand through all nine months until the moment before the baby is born, a failed showboat that will only prove their own extremism.”

On the other side was Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who said the nation faces a “doomsday scenario” after a leaked Supreme Court draft showed a majority of justices in favor of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a constitutional right to abortion.

“Today’s vote is one of the most consequential we will take in decades, because for the first time in 50 years, a conservative majority, an extreme majority on the Supreme Court, is on the brink of declaring that women do not have freedom over their own bodies, one of the longest steps back in the court’s entire history,” Mr. Schumer said. “The decision if enacted will go down as one of the worst court decisions ever.”

Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to pass a cloture motion in the 50-50 Senate, but Mr. Schumer said it would force Republicans to “go on the record.”

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“Before the day is over, every member of this body will make a choice: Stand with women to protect their freedoms, or stand with MAGA [Make America Great Again] Republicans and take our country to a dark and repressive future,” said Mr. Schumer.

Mr. McConnell countered that the vote would expose Democrats as out of step on abortion with the American public.

Polls consistently show that most voters favor keeping Roe v. Wade, but also support restrictions on abortion access, including gestational deadlines for most procedures; waiting periods, and requiring doctors to perform abortions.

“It is chilling that anybody would write legislation like this in 2022. It’s even more disturbing that 97% of Washington Democrats have put their names on it. The American people need to see what the far left has become,” Mr. McConnell said. “So I’m glad, glad the Senate will vote today. We will stand with the American people, stand with innocent life, and block the Democrats’ extreme bill.”

The legislation prevents governments from barring abortions before fetal viability or after fetal viability “when a provider determines the pregnancy risks the patient’s life or health.”

Republicans argued that the measure, which passed the House last year, essentially permits abortion on demand until birth, given that the health exception typically includes mental health.

“The Democrats’ bill would functionally allow elective abortion through all nine months, abortion until the moment of birth,” Mr. McConnell said. “We are currently one of only seven countries worldwide that allows elective abortion after 20 weeks. That puts us in a group with China and North Korea.”

Mr. Schumer ripped his Republican counterpart for saying last week that legislation to ban abortion nationwide was “possible.”

“Let that sink in, America,” said Mr. Schumer. “A national ban on abortion is the extreme of extremes, and it is now possible in a Republican Senate, according to Leader McConnell. Americans should listen to that.”

In a USA Today interview, Mr. McConnell said that legislators could take up the issue if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area,” Mr. McConnell told USA Today in the Saturday interview.

“And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible,” he said.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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