Reproductive rights activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

Reproductive rights activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2024.

(Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate Republicans Block Yet Another Reproductive Rights Bill

"The American people want to know where their senators stand on freedom of choice," said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

In another display of GOP lawmakers' opposition to reproductive rights, U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Reproductive Freedom for Women Act.

Introduced last month by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the bill states that "the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade... should be restored and built upon, moving towards a future where there is reproductive freedom for all."

The bill also acknowledges Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court's June 2022 ruling that reversedRoe, the decision that had affirmed the right to abortion until viability since 1973. Dobbs set off a fresh wave of efforts to impose devastating new restrictions on reproductive healthcare.

"If Republicans are going to force women to stay pregnant, we are going to force them to be honest with the American people about their extreme position. And, by the way, Democrats are going to keep fighting to restore the rights the American people have been so clear that they want back," Murray said on the Senate floor before Wednesday's vote.

The vote was 49-44, mostly along party lines. Seven senators were not present, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were the only Republicans who supported holding a final vote on the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote to "no" so he can bring the bill back up at a later date.

Wednesday's vote followed Republicans blocking bills on in vitro fertilization (IVF) and contraception last month. It also came after the GOP blocked three bills on Tuesday, which aimed to affirm the freedom to cross state lines for abortion care, protect doctors providing legal abortions from being punished for treating patients from other states, and support training for more providers.

"We know where the American people stand on the freedom of choice: Over 80% of Americans—including two-thirds of Republicans—agree that healthcare decisions including abortion should be between a woman and her doctor," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

"But Americans are rightfully worried that reproductive rights are becoming extinct in this country. They see what's happening at the Supreme Court. They see the attacks on women's rights in states like Texas and Florida and Alabama and Idaho and beyond," he continued. "The American people want to know where their senators stand on freedom of choice."

The Senate majority leader also called out former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee to face embattled Democratic President Joe Biden in November.

While Trump's recognition that rolling back reproductive freedom is unpopular is reportedly what led to changes in the Republican Party's 2024 policy platform, campaigners and legal experts have warned this week that the final language is still incredibly threatening and the GOP can't be trusted on this issue.

The White House said Tuesday that "the administration strongly supports Senate passage" of the bill and "will continue to work with Congress to defend reproductive freedom once and for all."

The statement also called out the GOP, saying that "Republican elected officials' extreme agenda is putting women's health and lives at risk and unleashing chaos and cruelty across America."

After the vote Wednesday, Reproductive Freedom for All president and CEO Mini Timmaraju said in a statement that "we're grateful to Sen. Murray, Leader Schumer, and our champions in the Senate for continuing to hold Republicans' feet to the fire for the damage they've done to reproductive freedom."

She added that "the GOP must be held accountable for the abortion bans they've helped orchestrate and refuse to back down from—and this November, they will be voted out of office."

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