(New York) Can a token vote that ends in an expected defeat help Democrats mobilize American voters around reproductive rights?
Opinions are divided on this question. But this is indeed the strategy Democrats rolled out in the US Senate on Wednesday, nine days after the release of a Supreme Court document announcing the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed women’s right to abortion since 1973 in the United States.
By 49 to 51 votes, the upper house of Congress torpedoed a bill that sought to prohibit U.S. states from restricting this right until fetal viability and to allow abortion after viability for health reasons or for protect the life of the pregnant woman.
The vote was doomed due to the rule known as the “filibuster,” which required Democrats to muster 60 out of 100 votes to advance to the next stage. However, the latter did not even manage to obtain a simple majority.
The Democrats will therefore have allowed the Republicans to claim a majority in the Senate on an issue on which, according to the polls, their opinion contrasts with that of the majority of Americans.
Never mind: Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer stressed the importance of the vote, which he said touches on “one of the most important questions voters will face this fall.” during the midterm elections.
“Before the end of the day, every member of this assembly will make a choice,” the Democratic senator from New York State said Wednesday morning from the Senate Chamber. “Vote to protect the basic rights of women across the country, or side with MAGA Republicans to lead our country into a dark and repressive future. »
Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two pro-choice Republican senators, voted against the Democratic bill. The two politicians, who represent Maine and Alaska respectively, had reacted with dismay last week to the leak of the draft of a Supreme Court majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade. They then introduced their own bill enshrining in federal law the two Supreme Court rulings on abortion: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
But Democrats rejected any compromise that might win their votes, as well as that of Joe Manchin.
“The legislation introduced today in the Senate goes far beyond the precedents set by Roe and Casey,” said Senator Murkowski.
Although he is against abortion, Senator Manchin said he would have supported a bill enshrining Roe v. Wade. When asked by a reporter how he reconciled this position with his opposition to pregnancy terminations, he replied, alluding to the historic ruling: “I think this [law] that we’ve had for 50 years – it’s a previous. »
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is among the Upper House Democrats who were opposed to any compromise with Republicans, including Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. At least, initially.
“Let’s start with the bill that fully protects women who need access to abortion,” she said on CNN on Tuesday. “Cutting in this area first is the wrong way to go. Women deserve full citizenship, full freedom, and our bill tomorrow will provide them with exactly that. »
Some Senate Republican leaders expressed surprise, genuine or feigned, about the Democrats’ strategy. In particular, they accused them of wanting to defend abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy.
“They’re not even trying to nuance,” Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune said. “It’s abortion until birth, a position that’s not likely to convince people who might be convinced if they were less aggressive in their approach. »
Democrats could introduce other, more limited bills before or after the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion is officially announced. One of the measures under consideration would protect women’s access to abortion pills, which could also be threatened in some states.
In the meantime, they do not seem to question their strategy. After the Senate vote, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, hinted that Republicans will have to pay for their opposition to the bill.
“Democrats will never give up on defending our fundamental freedoms – and the American people will remember those who sought to punish and control the decisions of women, and those who fought tirelessly alongside them, when they cast their ballots. next November,” she said.
All of this remains to be seen.