Kansas, Missouri senators vote against abortion rights bill


Kansas Sens. Roger Marshall, top left, and Jerry Moran, top right, and Missouri Sens. Josh Hawley, bottom left, and Roy Blunt, bottom right.


The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed to pass a bill to embed Roe v. Wade in federal law, marking the inabilityof Congress to protect abortion rights as it appears the U.S. Supreme Court is on the brink of overturning the landmark decision.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the vote was one of the “most consequential” the Senate will take in decades.

“Before the day is over, every member of this body will make a choice: vote to protect the fundamental rights of women across the country or stand with five conservative justices ready to destroy these rights in one fell swoop,” said Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

The measure failed to 49 to 51 after every Republican and one Democrat opposed the bill.

All four senators from Kansas and Missouri — Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley from Missouri and Republican Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall from Kansas — voted against the bill.

“It would disenfranchise every voter in my state,” Hawley said. “They wouldn’t get to have a say in this at all. I mean, it would it would have Democrats in D.C., determining this issue for the whole country.”

The bill would guarantee a legal right to an abortion across the country. But it goes beyond codifying Roe v. Wade, superseding restrictions passed by some states like requiring a 24 hour waiting period for undergoing the procedure, requiring parental consent or requiring an ultrasound before performing the procedure.

That would include the law that would ban abortion in Missouri if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The law would only allow abortions to protect the life of the mother. It would also override laws in Kansas that require consent and a 24 hour waiting period.

Democrats were aware they did not have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill. In bringing the vote to the floor anyway, Schumer is attempting to get Republican Senators on the record opposing abortion rights, in the hopes that the issue galvanizes political support for Democrats in a mid-term election where Republicans are expected to take control of the House and Senate.

Kansas will serve as a test of the political energy surrounding the issue in August, when voters will weigh in on a high profile measure on whether to include language in the constitution saying there is no guaranteed right to an abortion in the state. If the ballot measure passes, it could pave the way for the Kansas legislature to ban the procedure.

Marshall, an OB/GYN, spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor in front of a photograph of him delivering a baby, claiming it would force doctors to perform abortions against their will.

“This bill is an attack on my faith and an attack on the faith of many doctors and nurses who refuse to take part in abortions,” Marshall said. “They would be forced out of their professions, they would be forced out of medical schools, out of residency programs. So many aspiring students would decide not to go in to medicine.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill in September. Kansas Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids and Missouri Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Cori Bush were co-sponsors.

Before the Senate vote, members of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus walked across the Capitol to the Senate side of the building chanting “my body, my decision.”

But no protests from members of the House of Representatives, no signs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, no chalk-written pleas on the sidewalks in front of the homes of senators were able to shift the reality that there were not 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the bill.

There weren’t even 50.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, voted against the bill, telling reporters he felt it went beyond codifying Roe v. Wade. Republican Sens. Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, who support Roe v. Wade, also voted against the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, painted the bill in extremes, saying Democrats were going beyond codifying Roe v. Wade and attempting to allow abortions in some of the most extreme cases and would force doctors to perform abortions despite religious objections.

“The legislation is as extreme as extreme gets, McConnell said. “It ignores modern science, it is tone deaf to public opinion. Nothing about their bill merely codifies the current case-law on the issue. Their extreme proposal goes way, way beyond codifying the status quo.”

As Republicans have decried the Democrats’ bill for going too far in allowing abortions, the Democrats have accused Republicans of attempting to strip rights from women that have been protected for half a century.

“Across the country Republicans in state legislatures are banning abortion and they are making it crystal clear that they are going to go even further,” said Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington. “They are coming after your mail, because they want to make it illegal to send abortion medication in the mail. They are coming after your birth control. They are coming after Plan B and IUDs.”

This story was originally published May 11, 2022 3:56 PM.

Daniel Desrochers covers Washington, D.C. for the Kansas City Star. Previously, he was the political reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. He also worked for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, West Virginia.

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