The U.S. Senate will vote Wednesday on a bill to codify abortion rights into federal law — even though the proposal lacks the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
By voting on the bill without enough senators on board to make it law, Americans will know where their lawmakers stand on reproductive rights, said Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a Manhattan news conference.
Senate Republicans, according to Schumer, have been reluctant to declare support for revoking abortion rights since a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that made abortion legal in all states. He said Republican senators want to avoid the issue because a large majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.
Former President Donald Trump, who nominated three of the six conservative justices in support of the draft opinion, barely mentioned abortion at a rally Saturday for Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, the senator said.
“They are afraid to talk about the issue because they know the American people are not on their side,” Schumer said during the news conference, where he was joined by pro-choice advocates and state legislators.
“They know that history is not on their side," Schumer said of his Republican colleagues. "They will not be able to hide any longer.”
In a statement last week, the Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft — published by Politico on Monday night — and said "it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
The House of Representatives approved a bill to codify Roe into law last year, but the legislation is unlikely to advance in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats each hold 50 seats.
The Democrats hold the majority because Vice President Kamala Harris would cast a tiebreaking vote, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is an abortion foe, and it appears unlikely that enough Republicans would join Democrats to overcome the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance legislation.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called the abortion issue “the biggest fight of a generation” and doubled down on earlier calls to remove the filibuster.
“He [Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] already took away a justice from Barack Obama,” Gillibrand told host Jake Tapper. “He already stacked the court with ultraconservative justices.”
Appearing with Schumer at Sunday’s Manhattan news conference, Catherine Lederer, president of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion, said Alito in his draft pointed out that there is no explicit right to privacy in the Constitution, which could therefore lead future courts to revoke the right to contraception, same-sex marriage and interracial marriage.
State Assemb. Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D-East Elmhurst), said at the news conference that a bill she introduced last week to create a “Reproductive Freedom and Equity Fund” is necessary to help state abortion providers keep up with the demand if more than half the states criminalize or further limit access to abortions as expected if Roe is overturned. She said the fund would also help financially-strapped out-of-state people seeking abortions with travel expenses and cover the cost of the procedure.
“Abortions will continue to happen,” Gonzalez-Rojas said if Roe is overturned. “They just won’t be safe.”
Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who appeared on CNN before Gillibrand, said a trigger law banning abortion with exceptions for rape, or if the mother’s life was at risk, would go into effect in his state if the court overturns Roe.
He said his state is taking steps to assist pregnant women, improve its foster care system and make adoption easier. Reeves avoided answering directly when asked if Mississippi will seek to ban birth control.
“That is not what we're focused on at this time,” he said.
Gillibrand called his comments paternalistic and said his view ultimately denies women the right to decide when and under what circumstances they have children.
“It's outrageous that this governor and governors and legislatures across America are going to take this draft opinion, when it is final, and deny women these fundamental life-and-death decisions about their future and about their families,” she said.