HARTFORD, CT — The U.S. Senate on Monday fell short of the 60 votes it needed to move forward with debate on a Republican bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks.
The vote was 51-46 with three Democrats, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, voting with Republicans in favor, and two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voting against.
The bill, a priority for anti-abortion lawmakers, had little chance of making it through the upper chamber where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority.
Before the vote at a press conference in Hartford, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights, said he would continue to advocate against this type of legislation.
“Opposing the bill will enable every woman in America to make decisions for herself without interference from a politician, an insurance bureaucrat, or anyone else,” Blumenthal said. ”These decisions are a matter of privacy and the constitution protects privacy.”
During his floor speech, Blumenthal said the abortion ban would “provide virtually no adequate exception when a woman’s health is at risk and when there are fetal anomalies. And when there are dangers to the health and well-being of a mother who is sick, if her life is threatened, this bill fails to guarantee that she has access to the health care that she needs.”
Both Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy voted against the measure.
At the earlier press conference in Hartford, Susan Yolen, vice president of public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, noted that women are still receiving results from tests at 20 weeks.
Jillian Gilchrest, organizer of Connecticut Women’s March, said, “nearly 99 percent of abortions happen before 20-weeks and abortions that happen after are high-risk.”
She added that the legislation would have increased hurdles for women of color and those in low-income families.
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, said there are scientific studies revealing that an unborn child can feel pain after 20-weeks, so the rights of the unborn child should be protected.
He said it’s unlikely to be a big issue in Connecticut during the 2018 elections.
Wolfgang said Republicans in Connecticut generally forfeit the issue to the left and don’t raise it during campaigns.
“It is more of a wild card,” Wolfgang said.