Bipartisan compromise bill would restore abortion rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for compromise legislation to restore access to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a long-running effort to put a Senate majority on the record opposing the decision.

While the bill is not expected to pass — and is unlikely to even get a vote — the legislation introduced by two Republicans and two Democrats on Monday aims to send a signal to state legislatures and the public that a majority of the Senate supports the Roe codification, even if they cannot get the 60 votes needed to pass it in the Senate 50-50.

“We still think it’s helpful to show there’s a bipartisan majority that would want to codify Roe,” even if the bill doesn’t get enough votes, said Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who has presented the legislation with the Democratic senator. Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and the Republican Senses. Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.

The legislation would ban most state regulations that prevent access to abortion before fetal viability, generally considered to be around 24 weeks. This would allow for state restrictions after that point, as long as the mother’s life is protected. It would also protect access to contraception, an issue after Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion to the decision overturning Roe that decisions guaranteeing access to contraception and other rights may need to be reconsidered.

The bipartisan bill is narrower than legislation favored by most Democrats — passed by the House but blocked by Senate Republicans — that would have protected abortion rights and expanded them beyond what was authorized in the landmark 1972 decision Roe v. Wade. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Collins and Murkowski all voted against the bill despite opposition to Roe’s reversal.

Kaine said he felt like Democrats “left votes on the table” after that effort. He said he was encouraged by a new law aimed at reducing gun violence that was passed by the House and Senate after horrific shootings in Texas and New York.

“There weren’t 60 votes either” for this legislation until members decided inaction was no longer an option, he said.

Democrats would need 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster and pass a bill through the Senate 50-50, but only Collins and Murkowski have publicly backed abortion rights.

By overturning Roe, the court allowed states to enact strict limits on abortion, many of which had previously been ruled unconstitutional. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.

Already, a number of GOP-controlled states have moved quickly to restrict or ban abortion, while Democratic-controlled states have sought to defend access. Voters now rank abortion among the most pressing issues facing the country, a shift in priorities that Democrats hope will reshape the political landscape in their favor for the midterm elections.

The support for Kaine and Sinema, a moderate, comes as some activists have accused President Joe Biden and other top Democrats of not responding forcefully enough to the decision.

Kaine said there was a heightened sense of urgency since the June decision and suggested he or others might speak up at some point and ask for a vote, an effort that is unlikely to succeed but who could draw attention to the bill as majorities of Americans. say they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“People pay attention to it,” Kaine said.

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