WASHINGTON (KLAS) — Nevada Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen joined the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate to codify a woman’s right to abortion into federal law, but the measure failed 49-51, with all Republicans and one Democrat not supporting it.
Congress has battled for years over abortion policy, but the Wednesday vote to take up a House-passed bill was given new urgency after the disclosure of a draft Supreme Court opinion to overturn the Roe decision that many had believed to be settled law.
The outcome of the conservative-majority court’s actual ruling, expected this summer, is sure to reverberate around the country and on the campaign trail ahead of the fall midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
In addition to every Republican senator, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin also voted against the measure, which would restrict states from implementing abortion bans up to the point of viability unless the mother’s health were at risk.
President Joe Biden said that Republicans “have chosen to stand in the way of Americans’ rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives.”
In Nevada, the right to an abortion up to 24 weeks is written into the state constitution. It would take a vote of the people and a vote in the Legislature to overturn it.
“This is not the end,” Cortez Masto tweeted after the vote. “I will keep fighting beside outraged Nevadans and Americans to ensure women have the right to choose.”
“We are staring a post-Roe world in the face and the failure to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act is deeply disappointing,” Rosen tweeted. “But this is not over by any means. I’ll keep fighting to protect women’s lives, liberty, and access to comprehensive reproductive health care.”
Few Republican senators spoke in favor of ending abortion access, but they embraced the filibuster to block the bill from advancing.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, an architect of the effort to install conservative justices on the Supreme Court — including three during the Trump era — has sought to downplay the outcome of any potential changes in federal abortion policy.
“This issue will be dealt with at the state level,” McConnell said.
Former Nevada attorney general and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt called Cortez Masto’s vote “state-sanctioned infanticide.”
The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act last year. It would need 60 votes in the Senate to move forward.
Two-thirds of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, according to a recent CBS News poll. Six in 10 Americans want federal protection for abortion, the poll found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.