EJ MONTINI

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin could save abortion rights but ... they won't

Opinion: The two Democrats are again faced with choosing between the wishes of a majority of Americans or with an arcane, much-altered Senate rule.

EJ Montini
Arizona Republic
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin could save abortion rights for women in the United States.

But … they won’t.

For that to happen the senators would have to agree to abolish or alter the Senate’s filibuster rule in order to pass the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade into law.

But .. they won’t.

You recall how, back in January, Sinema and Manchin voted with Senate Republicans to defeat a proposal that would have dropped the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold in order to pass voting rights legislation.

Now, with the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade the two Democrats will again be faced with choosing between the wishes of a majority of Americans or sticking with an arcane, much-altered Senate rule.

Sinema supports women's rights?

It’s another of those rare opportunities in which a couple of politicians have the ability to actually follow the will of the people.

But … they won’t.

Sinema issued a statement declaring her support for women’s abortion rights. But she also indicated that she wouldn’t change her mind about the filibuster.

She said:

“A woman’s health care choices should be between her, her family, and her doctor. Overturning Roe v. Wade endangers the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across America.

“Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women’s access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever.

“Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve always supported women’s access to health care, I’m a cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, and I’ll continue working with anyone to protect women’s ability to make decisions about their futures.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he planned to hold a vote on codifying Roe v. Wade into law. It can’t pass unless the filibuster rule is altered.

When Sinema was arguing against changing the filibuster rule in the Senate prior to the voting rights vote, she said in part, “When one party needs only negotiate within itself, policy will inextricably be pushed from the middle toward the extremes. I understand there are some on both sides of the aisle who prefer that outcome, but I do not. I know that Arizonans do not either … .”

There's no filibuster in Arizona or most states

Really, because that is exactly the system Arizona has, and which Sinema was a part of for years.

I don’t recall an instance when she argued that the Arizona Legislature should institute a filibuster rule, something few states have.

Now, however, she loves it.

And Republicans love her for loving it.

Sinema knows very well that Republicans on the state level (like Arizona) are passing oppressive abortion restriction laws, just as they passed voter suppression laws, on simple-majority, party-line votes.

She knows as well that she and Manchin could join a simple-majority vote in the Senate to stop them.

But … they won’t.

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.

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