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Activists with Lancaster Stands Up occupied Sen. Bob Casey's (D-Pa.) office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 10, 2022, after which the lawmaker announced his intention to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act.

Activists occupied Sen. Bob Casey's (D-Pa.) office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 10, 2022, after which the lawmaker announced his intention to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act. (Photo: Lancaster Stands Up/Twitter)

Sen. Bob Casey Commits to Vote for Abortion Rights After Sit-In at His Office

"We came here to demand that Sen. Casey pass the Women's Health Protection Act," said one sit-in participant. "Now he is committing to do just that."

Kenny Stancil

Progressive activists occupied Democratic Sen. Bob Casey's office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, after which the historically anti-choice lawmaker announced his intention to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act to codify the reproductive rights that are now in peril thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority.

"This week, I will again vote yes to advance debate on the Women's Health Protection Act and I will support the bill if there is a vote on final passage in the future," Casey said in a statement.

The Pennsylvania Democrat's statement was released just minutes after members of Lancaster Stands Up occupied his office in the state capital.

"Community pressure works," said Becca Rast, managing director of Justice Democrats.

In his statement, Casey said that "in the nearly three months since the Senate last voted on the Women's Health Protection Act, the circumstances around the entire debate on abortion have changed."

"In light of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft overturning Roe v. Wade, and subsequent reports that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate will introduce legislation to enact a nationwide six-week ban," he continued, "the real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for—nor do I support—such a ban."

The Women's Health Protection Act would enshrine patients' right to receive legal and safe abortions and healthcare professionals' right to provide them. Casey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only two Democrats who refused to co-sponsor the Senate's version of the legislation when it was reintroduced last year.

"We came here to demand that Sen. Casey pass the Women's Health Protection Act," Hannah Henrichon, a Millersville University student and sit-in participant, said in a statement. "Now he is committing to do just that."

Suzy Wurtz from Lancaster Stands Up said that "people all over our state have been standing up and demanding that our elected officials, including Sen. Casey, fight to protect our reproductive rights."

"Thank you Sen. Casey for listening to us and making the choice to fight for us," she added.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has teed up a Wednesday vote on a modified version of the Women's Health Protection Act.

House Democrats—with the lone exception of right-wing Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas—supported the passage of the Women's Health Protection Act last September. However, the bill died in the upper chamber in February when Manchin joined all Senate Republicans present to block the measure before it even reached the floor. Casey, for his part, did vote to advance debate on the bill.

Because the filibuster requires 60 votes to advance most legislation, the latest iteration of the Women's Health Protection Act is destined for the same fate unless the entire Senate Democratic Caucus—including Manchin and fellow conservative Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—and Vice President Kamala Harris vote to suspend the anti-democratic rule that gives veto power to the minority party in a closely divided upper chamber.

Less than 24 hours after the publication of Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft opinion, which shows that the high court's right-wing majority is set to strike down Roe v. Wade, Manchin doubled down on his defense of the filibuster, characterizing it as "the only protection we have in democracy."

If Senate Democrats fail to eliminate the filibuster and pass the Women's Health Protection Act and Alito's draft ruling is not substantially changed before it is officially issued, abortion could soon be outlawed in more than half the country.


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