Senate Republicans block Democratic votes on abortion bills

Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass a series of abortion-related bills Tuesday, as the party seeks to keep a focus on abortion and access to reproductive health care ahead of the November election.  

One bill was aimed at protecting the freedom to travel across state lines to access abortion care. Another bill would have protected doctors in states where abortion is legal from being held liable for providing services to patients from other states, and a third bill was meant to support training more abortion care providers.  

“Not a single one of these bills should be controversial. To oppose these bills, as Republicans have just done, is truly extreme,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on the Senate floor. “It seems when it comes to abortion, there is no bill too simple for Republicans to oppose, there is no right too basic for Republicans to attack, and no problem too important for Republicans to ignore.”  

Democrats tried to pass each of the three bills by unanimous consent, meaning just one Republican needed to object in each case.  

The bills are part of Senate Democrats’ months-long focus on abortion, meant to highlight the differences between the parties on abortion rights and women’s access to health care. Democrats want to keep abortion in the front of voters’ minds and highlight what they say is Republican extremism. 

Last month, Senate Democrats attempted to vote on legislation to protect access to contraception and in vitro fertilization treatments. Both were blocked by Republicans. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate will vote Wednesday on a bill to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into law.  

But as Democrats try to keep the focus on abortion, concerns about whether President Biden should remain on the ticket threaten to overwhelm their efforts.