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House legislation would write abortion rights into law in the face of challenges before the Supreme Court.

COURTESY PHOTO: BPS - Oregon U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (left) and Jeff Merkley at the 19th Annual Oregon Business Plan Summit in 2021. Both Oregon senators decried a vote on abortion rights this weekOregon's Democratic U.S. senators criticized a vote by Republicans to block legislation to guarantee women's reproductive rights and safeguard the ability of health care providers to perform abortions.

The Senate vote Monday, Feb. 28, was 46 in favor and 48 against, far short of the 60 required to cut off debate on legislation (HR 3755) that the House passed on Sept. 24. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley voted with all but one Democrat to end debate. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined 47 Republicans against cutting off debate. Three Democrats and three Republicans were absent.

The House passed the bill last fall mostly along party lines — 218 Democrats for, and 210 Republicans and one Democrat against. It would have written into federal law the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing abortion rights; a majority of the current court may be poised to overrule Roe v. Wade.

Oregon's five House members split 4-1 along party lines to pass the bill.

The Oregon Legislature has passed several state bills to guarantee access to abortion.

Wyden's comment after the vote:

"By failing to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, the Senate has decided that the government should come between a woman and her doctor. Roe v. Wade was decided almost 50 years ago, and yet in too many states, reproductive freedom is under attack. Today the Senate had the opportunity to cement the right to an abortion into in federal law so that every American can access an essential service to control their bodies and their futures. I will keep fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, which is a critical part of health care."

Merkley's comment:

"The freedom to be in control of your own body is an essential freedom. I believe in a society where everyone — regardless of the color of their skin, gender, ZIP code, or income — has the same right to high-quality health care. Here in America, everyone should have the same right to make medical decisions about their own body, and to access the care they need — including reproductive care — free from political interference. It is crucial that medical decisions are made by individuals and whomever they may choose to consult — not by extremist politicians.

"With Roe v. Wade under assault from the Supreme Court, passing the Women's Health Protection Act is an urgent and necessary step forward in our fight to protect Americans' reproductive freedoms. Unfortunately, today, Republicans in the Senate blocked debate and decided they, and state politicians, should be the ones to make Americans' health care decisions.

"Today's vote is not the end of our fight. I will continue to work at this until we successfully protect access to the full scope of reproductive health care."

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