Schumer Shows Some Spine: The Senate Vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act 

Yesterday, head Democrat in the Senate and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called up the Women’s Health Protective Act for a vote and the vote failed by a margin of 49-51 with Joe Manchin and the two pro-choice Republicans voting against the measure.

But I see the vote as a step forward for the Democrats.

The Women’s Health Protective Act was originally passed by the House in 2021 and contains the following items according to Congress.Gov:

This bill prohibits governmental restrictions on the provision of, and access to, abortion services. Specifically, governments may not limit a provider’s ability to

  • prescribe certain drugs,
  • offer abortion services via telemedicine, or
  • immediately provide abortion services when the provider determines a delay risks the patient’s health.
  • perform unnecessary medical procedures,
  • provide medically inaccurate information,
  • comply with credentialing or other conditions that do not apply to providers whose services are medically comparable to abortions, or
  • carry out all services connected to an abortion.

In addition, governments may not (1) require patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits before receiving abortion services or disclose their reasons for obtaining such services, or (2) prohibit abortion services before fetal viability or after fetal viability when a provider determines the pregnancy risks the patient’s life or health.

In other words, the Women’s Health Protective Act reaffirms the fundamental right to terminate pregnancies before a fetus is viable, identifies a woman and her doctor as the primary agents of decision making in relation to abortion health care, and bans all the impediments conservative states like Texas and Kentucky have been putting in place to make abortions more difficult and costly.

In addition, the Women’s Health Protective Act did not provide for any religious-based exceptions to its provisions.

Thus, the Women’s Health Protective Act affirmed women’s rights to abortion procedures as normal medical practice and provided no exceptions for state’s rights, Catholic hospitals, or the tender sensitivities of the religious right.

It’s an excellent bill and that’s why GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was outraged.

Leader Schumer wants the Senate to vote again on a Democrat bill that would effectively legalize abortion on demand through all nine months. Their bill is written to protect abortionists rather than mothers. It would roll back health regulations. It would attack Americans’ conscience rights and religious freedoms. It would overturn modest and overwhelmingly popular safeguards like waiting periods, informed consent laws, and possibly even parental notification. And it is written so that in practice, it would allow elective abortion until birth. Democrats’ extreme position is radical on a global scale and it is wildly unpopular with the American people.”

A lot of what McConnell says is laughable regurgitation of things that the forced birth movement has been making up about abortion for decades.

However, one of the main points about the Women’s Health Protective Act is that the House authors did not care about anti-abortion opinion.

And neither did Chuck Schumer in bringing up the bill for a vote.

Failing to understand Roe v Wade, Sen. Joe Manchin called the Women’s Health Protective Act an “expansion” of Roe v Wade and voted “no.”

Make no mistake, it is not Roe v. Wade codification,” he said of the Women’s Health Protection Act. “It is an expansion. It wipes 500 state laws off the books, it expands abortion, and with that, that’s not where we are today.

I’m sure Manchin’s Republican friends provided him with that number but the bill would have codified Roe v Wade rather than all the slices Republicans have taken out of abortion rights since 1973

But Chuck Schumer didn’t care what Manchin said and neither should I.

“Pro-life” Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also voted against the bill because it didn’t provide any religious exemptions.

However, given that Collins jerked the Democrats around on Obamacare and voted attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court, the Democrats have stopped viewing her as an honest person with whom they could negotiate.

So Chuck Schumer didn’t care what Collins and Murkowski had to say either.

The Never Trumper journal The Bulwark accuses Schumer of “once again playing to the activist base rather than to his gettable colleagues.” That’s exactly right. Schumer and Congressional Democrats needed to stop listening to Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell, moderate conservatives like Susan Collins, and GOP leaning Democrats like Joe Manchin.

And they have.

Schumer still needs to get better at legislative strategy and all Democratic leaders in Congress and the Biden administration desperately need to improve their partisan messaging, find ways to get their message amplified, and stick their rhetorical landings.

But the mainstream Democratic leadership has crossed the Rubicon of giving up on the Republicans and the fact that Chuck Schumer now has a spine is a big step forward.