Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters in December 2021. (Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t ruling out bringing a nationwide abortion ban up for a vote, should the U.S. Supreme Court end the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and his party regains the chamber in the November elections.
The Kentucky Republican was somewhat reserved last week when repeatedly asked by reporters at the Capitol about the impact the court overturning a 50-year-old precedent would have. McConnell argued the real news was about the leak of an initial draft opinion to Politico, not the Republican-nominated justices preparing to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
But when asked by USA Today in an interview published over the weekend if a nationwide ban is “worthy of debate,” McConnell said it would be a possibility in a Republican-controlled Senate.
”If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell told USA Today. “And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process.”
“So yeah, it’s possible. It would depend on where the votes were,” McConnell continued.
Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is expected to introduce a nationwide abortion ban bill in the U.S. Senate, according to The Washington Post.
Ernst’s office did not return a request for comment Monday about what exactly the legislation would entail and whether it would include any exceptions, such as the life of the pregnant person, rape or incest.
Getting any abortion bill through the U.S. Senate is an especially challenging task for either political party due to the legislative filibuster.
McConnell has been an ardent supporter of the procedural hurdle that requires at least 60 senators to agree to cut off debate on a bill and move on to passage.
“We don’t want to break the Senate and that’s breaking the Senate,” McConnell said May 3. “As far as I’m concerned, if we’re in the majority it will remain the case in perpetuity.”
The legislative filibuster stymied Democrats’ efforts to advance legislation codifying the right to an abortion earlier this year and is expected to stop a similar bill on a procedural vote this week.
Neither political party is forecast to gain the 10 seats necessary to hold a supermajority of 60 senators following this year’s midterm elections, making it highly unlikely Congress passes legislation addressing abortion in the near future.
Several left-leaning Democrats have called for their party to tweak or do away with the legislative filibuster.
But other Democrats like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III have both repeatedly rejected the idea, and several other Democrats have expressed concerns about what legislation Republicans would pass once they’re back in the majority.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a letter Monday, rebuking Republicans in state legislatures for advancing bills to restrict when and how women can access abortion services.
“Republican state legislators across the country are already advancing extreme new laws, seeking to arrest doctors for offering reproductive care, ban abortion entirely with no exceptions, and even charge women with murder who exercise their right to choose,” Pelosi wrote.
“These draconian measures could even criminalize contraceptive care, in vitro fertilization and post-miscarriage care, dragging our nation back to a dark time decades into the past.”
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