In an attempt to search out some middle ground, a gaggle of senators from each parties introduced a long-shot bill Monday that will prohibit states from banning abortion before a fetus is viable.
The laws was co-authored by two Democratic senators, Virginia’s Tim Kaine and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, together with two Republican senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. It is available in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has allowed greater than a dozen states to outlaw or severely restrict abortion access.
The bill unveiled Monday would allow states to ban abortion only after a physician determines that the fetus could survive outside the womb, which usually happens at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. In lieu of enforcing a firm cutoff date, the bill would task a patient’s health care provider with making a determination about fetal viability.
For now, the hassle is more symbolic than anything.
“My colleagues and I actually have introduced this bipartisan bill today demonstrating that there’s now bipartisan support and majority support in the US Senate to guard reproductive freedom for all,” Kaine said on the Senate floor Monday.
Passing the bill would require support from all Democrats and at the very least eight more Republicans ― something Kaine knows is less complicated said than done.
“I’m thoroughly aware, as are my co-sponsors in introducing that bill, that we should not have the votes today, should it’s put up, to get 60 votes within the Senate,” he said.
“And yet,” Kaine continued, “I’m given some inspiration by the undeniable fact that we recently passed a gun safety bill, where two months before there have been not 60 votes either,” referencing a bill the Senate passed last month to enact modest limits on obtaining firearms.
Bill co-sponsors Collins and Murkowski didn’t support a previous attempt within the Senate to codify Roe v. Wade’s abortion protections, nor did Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
A coalition of greater than a dozen abortion rights groups responded to the laws with disappointment, saying its text will not be clear enough.
“This bill claims to ‘codify’ Roe v. Wade but fails to achieve this,” they wrote in an announcement. “Actually, it doesn’t expressly prohibit pre-viability abortion bans, leaving states in a position to proceed to pass abortion bans which are denying people access to essential health care across the country. This bill has been written for a world that doesn’t exist and would supply little solace within the nightmare we reside.”
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, identified that this latest bill “doesn’t prohibit the citizen-enforced bans which, even before the Dobbs decision, shut down the clinics in Oklahoma and limited Texas clinics to providing only as much as six weeks of pregnancy.”
“What we want from the bill’s sponsors is a commitment to finish the filibuster to pass abortion rights laws that may meaningfully restore access to abortion throughout the nation,” she said in an announcement, referring to the present Senate rules that allow Republicans to simply stop a bill from coming to a vote unless 60 senators vote to advance it.