Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin Block Legislation Preserving Abortion Rights

In this image from Senate TV, the tally of a Senate procedural vote that did not pass on the Senate floor is shown, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at the Capitol in Washington. The Senate has failed vote in an effort toward enshrining Roe v. Wade abortion access into federal law. Wednesday's 51-49 negative vote almost along party lines provided a stark display of the nation’s partisan divide over the landmark court decision and the limits of legislative action. The afternoon roll call promised to be the first of several efforts in Congress to preserve the nearly 50-year-old court ruling. (Senate TV via AP)

By Robert Gundran

May 12, 2022

The US Senate on Wednesday shut down a potential vote on a bill that would protect abortion rights nationwide.

Senators took to the floor on a motion to proceed on the bill. The procedural vote failed 49-51, when the bill needed 60 votes to move forward.

Every Senate Republican and Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia voted against the motion to proceed. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats, voted in favor.

A Likely Overturning

The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act last year, after the Supreme Court first signaled it was considering taking on Roe v. Wade.

The Senate moved into action to put abortion rights into law after a leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion showed that Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned.

In the 1973 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Constitution provided protections that gave a pregnant woman the liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. 

The justices ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment provided a “right to privacy” that protected a pregnant woman’s right to choose.  

Arizona Senators Support the Bill

Arizona’s senators have consistently spoken out in favor of preserving access to abortion.

“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion access in Arizona would be significantly limited,” Kelly said on Twitter. “I’ve cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act and we need to pass it now.”

“Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve always supported women’s access to health care,” Sinema said in a statement. “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.”

More than 60% of Americans support a woman’s right to choose abortion, according to a recent poll from Pew Research Center. That poll was conducted in March, before the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked. 

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have claimed they support the women’s right to have an abortion, but both voted against the bill, saying it goes too far.

On top of codifying Roe v. Wade into law, the Women’s Health Protection Act would invalidate state laws Democrats and abortion advocates say infringe on the court ruling, like bans on abortions before 24 weeks or restrictions that do not make exceptions for the patient’s health or life.

It would also stop states from requiring providers share “medically inaccurate” information, or from requiring additional tests or waiting periods, aimed at dissuading a patient from having an abortion.

Murskowski and Collins proposed a narrower bill that groups like the Center for American Progress and Planned Parenthood said won’t effectively protect the right to abortion. 

Arizona Republicans Enact Strict Abortion Laws

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Arizona is one of 26 states “certain or likely” to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. An Arizonan would have to travel an average of 251 miles to access care if abortion is totally banned in the state, according to the organization.

Arizona has a law on the books from 1901 that mandates prison time for abortion providers.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey also recently signed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks. The state’s Republican-led Legislature passed the bill before it arrived at Ducey’s desk. 

The law offers no exceptions for rape or incest, forcing women to carry those pregnancies to term.

The state already imposes many hoops to jump through to get an abortion in Arizona, including a mandatory 24-hour wait period after an initial consultation, prohibition of abortion care via telemedicine, and parental or judicial consent requirements for minors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.

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