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Abortion rights bill blocked in U.S. Senate

Published : May 12, 2022 16:33 IST T+T-
The Women's Health Protection Act sought to enshrine the Roe v. Wade ruling into federal law.

The Women's Health Protection Act sought to enshrine the Roe v. Wade ruling into federal law.

The Women's Health Protection Act sought to ensure access to abortions nationwide.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted along party lines to bar a proposed abortion rights bill from proceeding any further. The Women's Health Protection Act would have paved the way for wide ranging protection for legally terminated pregnancies nationwide. All 50 Republican senators and one Democrat voted against the measure, while 49 Democrats voted in favour.

May 11's vote comes after a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion across the United States. The leak triggered nationwide protests. A ruling on the matter is expected to take place this summer.

Senate split on abortion rights

The bill's failure in the Senate did not come as much of a surprise, with the Democrat's slim majority proving to be a major obstacle for the party. Ahead of the vote, Democratic lawmakers marched to the Senate from the House of Representatives chanting "My body, my decision." The lawmakers then observed proceedings from the gallery.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International's Tarah Demant responded to the outcome of the Senate vote saying: "Abortion is a basic and essential health care need for millions of women, girls, and people who can become pregnant." Demant went on to say: "Generations of people have advocated for the right to abortion in the United States, and those of us here today cannot and will not stand by as the rights of millions of people in the U.S. are trampled.”

Abortion is a deeply divisive issue in the U.S., although polls suggest more Americans are in favour of terminations than against in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, opinions appear to be mixed when it comes to abortions conducted at later stages.

kb/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters)