Arizona's senators vote to advance federal abortion bill; measure fails to gain enough support

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
Arizona Republic

Senate Democrats' effort to advance legislation to codify abortion rights at the federal level failed Wednesday.

On a 49-51 vote, Democrats did not muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster in the evenly-divided chamber. Both of Arizona's Democratic Senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, voted to advance the legislation.

Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia who voted against a similar measure in February, again voted against moving forward with the Democrats' bill.  

The vote was intended to put all 100 U.S. senators on the record on the issue before the November midterm elections. It comes after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would strike down federal abortion rights. 

Election 2022:Court abortion leak could rock Arizona races up and down the ballot

Sinema has supported abortion rights throughout her career in the House and Senate and last week reiterated her position that women’s health care decisions should be their own. 

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A crowd of anti-abortion protesters hold signs in front of abortion rights protesters at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on May 3, 2022.

"A woman's health care choices should be between her, her family, and her doctor. I voted for the Women's Health Protection Act and will continue working with anyone to protect women’s ability to make decisions about their futures," she said on Twitter following the vote.

Kelly, who faces re-election this year, has said that overturning Roe would be a step backwards.

Ahead of Wednesday's vote, he said in a video posted to Twitter that it was important for women to make their own decisions about their health care. 

"I'm really concerned because I have a 1-year-old granddaughter and if what the Supreme Court did last week actually becomes the law, then my granddaughter will have fewer rights than my grandmother," he said. "That just takes us in the wrong direction, a giant leap backwards."

Chuck Schumer: Senate vote 'most important we've taken in decades'

Almost immediately after Politico reported on the leaked draft last week, Democrats sought to use it to invigorate support for their party and its legislative agenda in the face of President Joe Biden’s sagging popularity and high inflation. 

The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would legalize abortion nationally and would override state-level laws designed to restrict or block abortions.

If the high court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion across the nation, the Women’s Health Protection Act is intended to preserve access to abortion across the country. 

Before Wednesday’s vote, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described it as a chance to protect women’s freedoms or to “stand with five conservative Justices ready to destroy” abortion rights. 

He said the vote would be one of the most consequential to come before the chamber this century.

Here's what to know:In Arizona, a repeal of Roe v. Wade could mean a near total ban on abortions

“So when we say that today’s vote is one of the most important we’ve taken in decades, when we say it’s not an abstract or theoretical exercise, when we say that the consequences would be real and immediate and far reaching, it is the truth,” he said.

“At least 80 million women live in states that would either instantly or very quickly ban abortions should Roe come to an end … So to my Republican colleagues who have spent the last week trying to talk about anything other than Roe, it’s time to go on record.”

Arizona abortion laws

Arizona is among the states whose pre-Roe laws made abortion a crime. The state has also passed more recent laws, including one this year that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

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