To Save Roe in Congress, the D’s Must Change Their Strategy

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer answers questions from reporters on Capitol Hill ahead of a planned vote Wednesday on the Women’s Health Protection Act. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

On Wednesday May 11, the Senate, for the second time this year, defeated Democrats’ legislation to protect abortion rights under federal law. The legislation went down 51–49 on the newest version of the.

Progressive lawmakers have pushed the original bill since 2013, and it went further than codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law. It bared states from enacting restrictions that have been allowed under that ruling. In February, it was previously defeated by the Senate 46–48, with Sen. Joe Manchin joining the Republicans against it as he did again on the second vote.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal sponsored the most recent version of the Act. He stripped out non-binding statements linking abortion restrictions to “white supremacy” and “gender oppression.” The new version also eliminated, emphasizing that the protections apply to women and “transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others.” So, while it did not extend Roe’s protections, it did retain them.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pressed ahead with the second vote to put Republican senators on record. He continued the strategy to turn public opinion, especially women voters, against the Republican Senator’s anti-abortion stance. Schumer had warned the Republicans that their support of the Supreme Court Justices’ banning abortions would cost them at the polls. On the Senate floor, he said, “the elections this November will have consequences because the rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot.”

Democrats have reason to believe that they have a winning approach. Polls have shown that most voters don’t want to see the supreme court overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that protected abortion rights.

William Saletan writing in The BulkWork, relies on polling to overwhelmingly conclude that overturning Roe is terrible for Republicans. In February, a Yahoo News survey found that most voters supported “a constitutional right that women in all states should have some access to abortion,” while only about 30 percent agreed that “states should be able to outlaw” abortion.

Polling for retaining Roe is surprisingly strong across the political spectrum. In a Fox News poll this…