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Leahy, Sanders call for abortion rights protections prior to symbolic vote

Abortion legislation facing a Senate test vote would enshrine into federal law the landmark...
Abortion legislation facing a Senate test vote would enshrine into federal law the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.(Jacquelyn Martin | AP)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WCAX) - Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders are joining other Democrats pushing to protect abortion rights at the federal level.

A test vote Wednesday on a Democratic bill to protect access to abortions is expected to fail, blocked by a Republican-led filibuster.

Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor Wednesday framed the debate as about protecting half of America’s population to make decisions about their own bodies.

“Polling – as if that should be the benchmark by which we legislate – shows that nearly two-out-of-three Americans believe the fundamental right established in 1973′s Roe vs. Wade should be upheld.  Yet here we are today – a body of 100, 76 percent of which are male – making decisions about the private lives of the nearly 168 million women in this country.  That’s ludicrous,” Leahy said.

Sanders in a speech Tuesday said the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion calling to overturn Roe v. Wade is what many have feared and that the country must protect the constitutional right to have an abortion.

“I get very tired of hearing the hypocrisy from the extreme right-wing who say: ‘get the government off our backs, we want small government.’ Well, if you want to get the government off of the backs of the American people, then understand that it is women who control their own bodies, not politicians,” Sanders said.

House Democrats last year approved the Women’s Health Protection Act, but the bill has stalled in the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats can’t muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday acknowledged that if Republicans become the majority in the Senate they still are unlikely to have enough votes to ban abortion outright.

Wednesday’s vote is the first of what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promises will be repeated efforts to show voters where the parties stand.

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