While surveys indicate that many Americans support the Roe v. Wade decision, they simultaneously support limits on abortion that are not currently allowed. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to vote to return the abortion debate to the states this June.
“To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House,” Biden said. “If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.”
Thirteen Catholic Senators, including Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Penn., voted in favor of the bill.
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said the legislation was “extreme” and “goes further than Roe.”
“I am confounded as to why the Democratic Party is pushing a bill that will allow an industry to avoid any governmental oversight and operate freely without health and safety protocols,” said Day, whose organization also emphasizes the need for government support for pregnant women and mothers.
“(Senate Majority Leader) Schumer wanted to put Senators on record and he may not like the outcome this fall,” Day said. “A vote against abortion extremism will bring voters to the polls--particularly in the states like Ohio, Georgia, and Arizona that are toss-ups.”
Though Manchin voted against the bill, he also made statements indicating he is in favor of codifying Roe.
“I’ve just thought this legislation we’ve had for 50 years… It’s precedent and law,” he said, according to CNN correspondent Manu Raju. Manchin nonetheless rejected the Women’s Health Act as an “expansion,” not a “codification” of Roe v. Wade.
The proposal was Democrats’ response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, and related precedents.
The Senate vote drew criticism from Republicans.
“Americans overwhelmingly support commonsense pro-life protections and limits on abortion, but Democrats are doubling down on taxpayer-funded, unlimited abortion on demand up to the moment of birth,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
(Story continues below)
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The non-partisan Susan B. Anthony List announced an ad buy to emphasize what the group said is an unpopular position.
“Pro-abortion Democrats are dramatically out of touch with the American people, who overwhelmingly reject abortion on demand until birth,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said, adding, “Radical pro-abortion lawmakers who shamefully advocate a ‘right’ to abortion at any time for any reason will see the consequences of their extremism at the ballot box this fall.”
While direct abortion is strongly rejected in Catholic teaching, Lori and Dolan emphasized that legal abortion is also contrary to Americans’ understanding of God-given rights.
“As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we implore Congress to stop pushing abortion as a solution to the needs of women and young girls, and instead embrace public policy that fully respects and facilitates these rights and the needs of both mother and child,” the bishops said.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.