WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrat abortion legislation is “very simple” in that it overrides the landmark Roe v. Wade’s 1973 law that legalized abortion nationwide would be enshrined in federal law.
Senate Democrats are quickly trying to codify the 50-year-old ruling after a draft advisory opinion from the US Supreme Court leaked last week indicating the court is poised to overturn the case. But they don’t have enough votes and Republicans are expected to block the bill in a test vote Wednesday.
But if democratic legislation were to become law, it would do more than just preserve the status quo.
The bill would also expand protections and invalidate many state laws that Democrats and pro-choice advocates say violated the original 1973 ruling. Two Republican senators who support abortion rights have indicated they will not vote for it, preferring their own narrower legislation.
A look at the legislation the Senate will vote on Wednesday:
Codification of ROE V. WADE
Overall, the main objective of the legislation is to change Roe v. Wade into federal law, meaning the Supreme Court would have a much harder time overturning the case. In the five decades that the ruling set a precedent, pro-choice advocates were unable to pass federal legislation legalizing abortion. And because the Supreme Court ruled that right, it can also strip him of it — rare as that move may be.
By codifying Roe, the legislation would establish that healthcare providers have the right to provide abortion services and that patients have the right to receive abortions.
PROHIBITING CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS
The Democrats’ bill would also end certain state legislation they say undercut Roe v. Wade and ban what they believe are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortion. The court has allowed states to regulate, but not prohibit, abortion before it is viable, about 24 weeks, resulting in a plethora of state laws and restrictions that abortion rights advocates oppose.
The bill would end bans sooner than 24 weeks, in addition to any restrictions that make no exceptions to the patient’s health or life. It would also prevent states from requiring providers to share “medically inaccurate” information, or requiring additional testing or waiting time to dissuade a patient from having an abortion.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska support abortion rights but have opposed the Democratic legislation, saying it goes too far and could threaten some religious freedoms states are trying to protect.
They have introduced legislation closer to what the court is currently allowing, banning states generally from placing an “unreasonable burden” on a woman’s ability to choose to have an abortion before the viability of the fetus. A vote is not expected.
Without the votes to pass their bill, Democrats have little chance of blocking the final court ruling if Roe v. Wade picks up.
Democratic leaders have signaled that they instead intend to take the fight to voters before this year’s midterms.
“We have to win elections,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Tuesday.
Associated Press contributors Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.
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