A closely divided Senate on Monday blocked a proposed federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks in a vote that is likely to be the first of several election-year attempts to highlight the split between Democrats and Republicans.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act failed to earn the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle, marking a defeat for opponents of such procedures but fulfilling a pledge by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to hold a vote on the legislation. The vote was 51-46.
McConnell said the legislation “reflects a growing mainstream consensus” that abortions should be banned after 20 weeks.
“There is no reason why this should be a partisan issue,” he added. “I hope that my Democratic colleagues will not obstruct the Senate from taking up this bill.”
But only three Democrats – Sens. Robert Casey, Pa., Joe Donnelly, Ind., and Joe Manchin, W. Va. – voted with 48 Republicans to advance the measure. The senators have supported similar bans in the past and are facing reelection this year in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.
Two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska – joined 44 Democrats and independents in voting against the bill. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the legislation is “yet another attempt to harm women by criminalizing their health care.” She criticized Republicans for spending “the Senate’s time trying to turn back the clock” rather than focusing on a Feb. 8 spending deadline and bipartisan attempts to compromise on immigration.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ed O’Keefe