Senate Republicans block bill that would preserve the right to abortion

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters after speaking in the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on February 17.

By Shawna Mizelle, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett, CNN

(CNN) -- Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a House-passed bill aimed at preserving access to abortion nationwide.

The Senate blocked the measure on a nearly party-line vote, with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voting with Republicans in opposition. The vote was 46-48.

The bill, dubbed the Women's Health Protection Act, aimed to "protect a person's ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider's ability to provide abortion services." The House had passed the legislation in a nearly party-line vote in late September -- even though the bill was not expected to have the necessary votes to pass the 50-50 Senate, as legislation in the chamber requires Republicans to join Democrats to get at least 60 votes to break a filibuster.

The bill's failure to advance in the Senate comes as Republican-led states have introduced and advanced bills across the nation that make it harder for women to access abortions and threaten health-care providers who perform the procedure.

A Texas law took effect in September that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban. And the Supreme Court justices are expected to decide later this year a separate Mississippi case that presents a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Following that controversial Texas law taking effect, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced the House would take up the Women's Health Protection Act.

Pelosi argued that the time had come to pass the legislation, considering Democrats' control of the House -- where the majority of members support abortion rights -- and a Democrat serving as president.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking at a news conference ahead of the vote, said abortion restrictions passed at the state-level "largely fly in the face of public opinion, common sense, and frankly common decency. We must fight to stop these insidious efforts to curtail a woman's right to access safe, legal abortion."

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in a statement that she supports a woman's right to choose but that the Women's Health Protection Act "goes too far." "It would broadly supersede state laws and infringe on Americans' religious freedoms," she said.

This story has been updated with additional details Monday.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Share this article: