WASHINGTON – If the Supreme Court nullifies or destroys abortion rights in a major case that was argued Wednesday, the Democratic-led Congress is unlikely to have the votes to counter it legislatively.
The alternative plan, Democrats say, is to bring the issue to voters in the 2022 election and argue that Republican victories in Congress and the states could fuel restrictions or even ban abortions.
“I think the country has not seen the fury of women speaking out,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, arguing that laws like Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks are “intended to be misogynistic” and they say nothing about it. the “responsibility of the fertile.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, who has spoken about her harrowing decision in the past to terminate a pregnancy, said: “It is an insult, it is dangerous and it is outrageous. And that is why I think it is going to mobilize people to go to the polls. You’ll see a clamor like you’ve never seen it before. ”
The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act in September to codify the right to abortion at the national level. But the bill is likely to face a dead end in the Senate, where Democrats have a 50-50 majority and need 60 votes to defeat likely Republican obstructionism. The bill has just 48 Senate co-sponsors, with two exceptions Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Wednesday the House bill would go to a vote in the Senate. “Abortion is a fundamental right. We will not allow right-wing ideologies to tell women what to do, ”he said. “It won’t be an easy fight, but we won’t back down.”
When asked about Manchin’s position, a spokesperson said only that he has not subscribed to it and has not indicated how he would vote if he were brought into the room. A spokesperson for Casey, who is personally opposed to abortion, did not return messages seeking comment.
One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, supports codification of the Roe v. Wade in law, but she wants a more restricted proposal than the Women’s Health Protection Act, her office said.
Even if the Senate finds 50 votes to codify abortion rights, the obstructionism is likely to remain. Manchin has been determined against changing the rules to remove the 60-vote threshold or create problem-based exclusions. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, a co-sponsor of the abortion rights bill, strongly supports the obstructionist rule and has opposed weakening it on certain issues.
“If the Senate does not act? Then we have November, ”said Representative Barbara Lee, D-California.
Lee added that dismantling Roe would be “a shock” to many people who do not know a world without abortion rights protections.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the frontrunner in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary, called on Democrats in a statement to “immediately remove obstructionism and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect abortion rights.”
A new era of abortion wars?
A Supreme Court decision is expected by the end of June, in the heat of the midterm elections. Oral arguments indicated that the six conservative justices on the nine-member court appeared willing to at least uphold the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, if not go a step further and overturn Roe v. Wade and its precedents.
Republican opponents of legal abortion sounded optimistic, particularly after conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in the waning stages of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“And after hearing the argument, I think this could be the case that finally reverses Roe’s great injustice,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “It may all come down to Amy Barrett.”
Such a decision would bring the issue into the political arena, giving states the opportunity to undermine legal abortion and potentially giving Congress more power to ban it.
Polls have found that the majority of Americans are in favor of the right to terminate a pregnancy. An NBC News poll conducted in August found that 54 percent of adults want abortion to be mostly or always legal, while 42 percent say it should be mostly or entirely illegal. Support was high among suburban voters and college-educated whites, two coveted demographics.
But the right to abortion has seemed safe for decades, making some advocates complacent and those who opposed legal abortion were more motivated to vote on the issue. Democrats are counting on a backlash if the right is restricted or terminated to wake up voters in a cycle in which Republicans are historically favored to make progress.
A survey conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from Nov. 8 to 12, the results of which were viewed , found that denying a Republican-controlled Congress the chance to outlaw abortion was one of the party’s three strongest messages. It motivated core Democrats and gave the party’s candidates an edge among swing voters.
“In the competitive House districts, this is a really powerful negative for House Republicans. They’re going to have to own it,” said Chris Hayden, a spokesman for the committee. “It works with swing voters and our base voters.”
Some Senate Democrats in swing states are also highlighting it.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., a top Republican target next fall, took to the Senate floor to “sound the alarm” and warn that “there’s every reason to think that extreme justices on the Supreme Court are poised to either overturn Roe or fatally undermine it.”
She predicted that many states would quickly outlaw or restrict abortion.
“It’s even possible that a future Republican Congress would try to restrict abortion nationally,” she said.