Jun 24, 2022
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday that the U.S. Senate must swiftly respond to the right-wing Supreme Court's "outrageous and reactionary" decision to overturn Roe v. Wade by eliminating the legislative filibuster and codifying abortion rights into federal law.
"Six Supreme Court justices, including some who in their nomination hearings called the case 'important precedent,' today did exactly what the American people did not want and overturned Roe v. Wade," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. "This decision cannot be allowed to stand."
"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," the senator added, referring to the Senate GOP's elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017, a move that paved the way for three of the right-wing justices who voted to endthe constitutional right to abortion.
Twice this year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined the Republican caucus in filibustering the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), popular legislation that would enshrine into federal law the right to abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions.
Following the Supreme Court's Friday ruling, Manchin said he would "support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected."
However, the right-wing Democrat also signaled that he would not be willing to drop his support for the 60-vote legislative filibuster, which would prevent passage of the bill even if Senate Democrats secured majority support.
"I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that," said Manchin. With the filibuster intact, Democrats would need to convince 10 Senate Republicans to vote yes--an insurmountable hurdle.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a supporter of the WHPA, has also refused to back filibuster reform to prevent reproductive freedoms from being eroded by a half-dozen right-wing justices and their ideological allies in state legislatures across the country.
The filibuster rule can be changed or repealed with a simple-majority vote.
The Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization had an immediate impact on patients across the U.S., particularly in Republican-controlled states where so-called "trigger bans" were in place to outlaw abortion quickly after the fall of Roe.
"Texas has a 'trigger' law in place that will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization starting 30 days after the Supreme Court's judgement, which is typically issued about a month after the initial opinion," the Texas Tribunereported Friday. "But clinics and abortion funds are ceasing services now because the attorney general of Texas and some anti-abortion activists are arguing that state laws that banned abortion before Roe v. Wade--that were never repealed--could now be in effect in Texas."
Without urgent action from Congress, Republican-controlled states are expected to advance far-reaching abortion bans in the coming weeks as GOP leaders lay the groundwork to prohibit abortion nationwide.
"We have legislation to permanently enshrine abortion protections into law," Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), the lead sponsors of the WHPA in the House, said in a joint statement Friday.
"With lives in danger, it is now more important than ever the Senate abolish the filibuster and pass our bill," they added. "Abortion care is not just healthcare--it is a fundamental human right, and we will not stop fighting until that right is enshrined into federal law for every single American."
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