In an effort to find a middle ground, a group of senators from both parties on Monday introduced a long-term bill that would prohibit states from banning abortion before a fetus is viable.
The legislation was co-created by two Democratic senators, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, along with two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has allowed more than a dozen states to ban or severely restrict access to abortion.
The bill unveiled Monday would allow states to ban abortion only after a doctor determines that the fetus can survive outside the womb, which usually happens around 24 weeks of gestation. Rather than enforcing a fixed UKTN, the bill would task a patient’s health care provider with determining fetal viability.
For now, the effort is more symbolic than anything else.
“My colleagues and I presented this bipartisan bill today to demonstrate that there is now bipartisan support and majority support in the United States Senate to protect reproductive freedom for all,” Kaine said on the Senate floor Monday.
Passing the bill would require the support of all Democrats and at least eight Republicans — something Kaine knows is easier said than done.
“I am well aware, as are my co-sponsors in submitting that bill, that we will not have the votes today, should it be introduced, to get 60 votes in the Senate,” he said.
“And yet,” Kaine continued, “I am inspired by the fact that we recently passed a gun safety bill, where there were also no 60 votes two months earlier,” referring to a bill the Senate passed last month to impose modest limits. to enter. about obtaining firearms.
Bill co-sponsors Collins and Murkowski did not support a previous Senate effort to codify Roe v. Wade’s abortion protections, nor did Senator Joe Manchin (UKTN.Va.).
A coalition of more than a dozen abortion rights groups expressed disappointment at the legislation, saying the text was not clear enough.
“This bill purports to ‘codify’ Roe v. Wade but does not,” they wrote in a statement. “In fact, it does not expressly ban previable abortion bans, allowing states to continue to pass abortion bans that deny people access to essential health care across the country. This bill was written for a world which does not exist and would offer little solace in the nightmare we live in.”
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, pointed out that this new bill “does not outlaw the citizen-imposed bans that, even before the Dobbs decision, were to close Oklahoma clinics and restrict Texas clinics to providing only up to six weeks of pregnancy.”
“What we need from the bill’s sponsors is a commitment to end the filibuster to pass abortion laws that will meaningfully restore access to abortion across the country,” she said in a statement. statement, referring to current Senate rules that allow Republicans to easily stop a bill not going to vote unless 60 senators vote to propose it.