U.S. Senate Democrats fail to enshrine nationwide abortion protections, vow more action

Pa.’s U.S. senators, Democrat Bob Casey, and Republican Pat Toomey, were on opposite sides of the bill

By: and - May 11, 2022 5:05 pm

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania (Capital-Star file)

WASHINGTON — Efforts to secure the nationwide right to an abortion stalled for a second time Wednesday when U.S. Senate Democrats failed to get enough votes to overcome the legislative filibuster.

Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Bob Casey Jr., of Scranton, and Republican Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, were on opposite sides of the bill heading into Wednesday’s vote.

In a statement released ahead of the vote, Casey, who opposes abortion, but has supported family planning and satellite issues, said he would vote to advance the bill, and planned to vote in favor of it, if it ever reached that point. The announcement represented a major turning point for Casey.

“In the nearly three months since the Senate last voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act, the circumstances around the entire debate on abortion have changed,” Casey said. “In light of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft overturning Roe v. Wade, and subsequent reports that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate will introduce legislation to enact a nationwide six-week ban, the real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion?  During my time in public office, I have never voted for—nor do I support—such a ban.”

In a statement released after the the vote, Toomey called the bill, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., “extreme.”

The vast majority of Americans support restrictions on abortion, yet the bill the Senate is considering today would allow an individual to obtain an abortion, as a practical matter, at any time for any reason up until the moment of birth,” Toomey said.

“This partisan bill would also override many state laws in meaningful ways, endangering even the minimal health and safety standards enacted in Pennsylvania after the discovery of Kermit Gosnell’s atrocitiesThis vote is a political stunt designed to further inflame heightened tensions around this issue and to appease the Democrats’ radical base,” he said.

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.