• Tue. Sep 26th, 2023


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Video: Members of Congress Voice Mixed Opinions on the Roe v Wade Ruling

As members of Congress flooded into the Capitol on Friday morning for a packed legislative day before a recess, news of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade reverberated through the building.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was visibly shaken at her weekly news conference, saying, “It’s just stunning — and again as a woman, as a mother, as a grandmother, to see young girls now have fewer rights than their moms or even their grandmothers, is something very sad for our country.”

Separately, she described the ruling as “cruel,” “outrageous” and “heart-wrenching.”

But congressional action on abortion rights is unlikely given a lack of support in the Senate. A House bill that went beyond Roe and aimed to protect abortion access nationwide, the Women’s Health Protection Act, failed in the Senate last month with 51 senators opposed and 49 in support, well short of the 60 votes needed.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, said she thought any abortion rights bill was unlikely to pass in the Senate, adding that the next best action would be “organizing, mobilizing and turning it into a major election issue.”

Democrats would need the support of Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who has frequently opposed abortion rights, in addition to 10 Republicans for such a bill to pass.

“I have come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life — I believe that exceptions should be made in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy,” Mr. Manchin said, adding, “I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected.”

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who was a key supporter of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in his 2018 confirmation, said in a statement that Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch had misrepresented their views on Roe in private meetings with her.

“Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative,” Ms. Collins said. “It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger and a further loss of confidence in our government.”

Ms. Collins is one of two Senate Republicans who have shown support for abortion rights bills; the other is Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The two voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Some lawmakers expressed satisfaction with the court’s ruling, including Representative Majorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, who walked into the House chamber with a smile and said the decision was “a blessing.”

“People need to understand this doesn’t end abortion and just simply gives it back to the states, allowing the states to make their own laws,” she said.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has played a major role in shaping the Supreme Court, said he shared the joy of those celebrating the ruling.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, declared on the House floor: “God bless the United States Supreme Court, and God bless President Trump for the people he selected for our highest court.”

With protesters gathering outside the Supreme Court, other congressional Republicans, like Senators Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio, urged the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security in a letter to step up security for members of the Supreme Court and the court itself, escalating security measures from a bill that Congress cleared earlier this month, which extends police protection to the immediate family members of the justices.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel would convene a hearing on July 12, when the Senate returns from recess, on a post-Roe world.

“The court’s decision to erase the right to access an abortion will not only lead to the denial of critical health care services, but also criminal consequences for women and health care providers in states eager to embrace draconian restrictions,” he said.

Emily Cochrane and Carl Hulse contributed reporting.