The initiative was doomed to failure but was meant to be symbolic. At a time when the right to abortion is strongly threatened by an upcoming Supreme Court decision, the US Senate failed on Wednesday, May 11, to adopt a law guaranteeing its access throughout the country.
This vote was above all symbolic, the Democrats not having the sixty votes out of a hundred necessary to move forward on this text. But it is part of a larger fight by progressives to try to protect the right to abortion.
Around 3 p.m. local time (8 p.m. in Paris), the hundred senators of the American Congress voted to guarantee, or not, the right to abortion across the United States. “Today’s vote is one of the most important in decades to come,” Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer said shortly before the vote.
“Because for the first time in fifty years, a conservative majority, an extreme majority of the Supreme Court is about to decree that women have no control over their own bodies,” he warned, in the semicircle, the serious tone. The Republicans were opposed to this initiative as a whole, accusing the Democrats, through their leader Mitch McConnell, of wanting, with this text, to offer “abortions on demand”.
A vote organized by Joe Biden
Joe Biden’s party was keen to organize this vote after the extraordinary leak on May 2 of a draft Supreme Court decision, according to which the American temple of law was preparing to cancel access to the abortion.
If the Supreme Court were to overturn the case law that has founded the right to abortion in the United States since 1973, as the revelation of a draft judgment suggested this week, each State would be free to prohibit or to allow abortion. Twenty conservative states have already promised to make it illegal.
Since the revelation of this draft judgment, groups – more or less dense – come every evening to shout their anger in front of the Supreme Court, an imposing white marble building now protected by a fence.
The only other option currently available to abortion rights advocates to protect it was to change Senate rules to lower the number of votes needed to pass such a law.
Manifestation on May 14
Anxious to weigh in on the debate, several major progressive organizations have called on Americans to march en masse on May 14 across the United States. Four major marches are held in Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and hundreds of rallies across the rest of the country.
US President Joe Biden has also pledged to get personally involved in the battle and urged Americans to “pick candidates who support” abortion rights in the November 8 midterm legislative elections.
He thus wishes to enlarge the majority of Democrats in the Senate, with the hope of then being able to pass this federal law protecting access to abortion. But these elections are always very dangerous for the power in place, and it is very possible that the Democrats will on the contrary lose their slim majorities in Congress during the ballot.