Republicans Prepare for Upcoming Abortion Vote

Votes not likely there in Senate, but measure could be a midterm issue

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is among the proponents of the legislation to ban late-term abortions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is among the proponents of the legislation to ban late-term abortions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 26, 2018 at 5:05am

Senate Republicans are readying for a vote next week on a late-term abortion bill. And while it’s unlikely they will have the votes to pass it, abortion opponents say the measure could play a role in the 2018 midterm elections.

The bill would ban abortions after the 20-week mark, while providing exceptions for rape, incest or the endangerment of a woman. It passed the House along party lines last year and has been waiting on a Senate vote.

However, with a 60-vote threshold for passage, Republicans face a tough path ahead. The legislation was recently listed as a top priority of anti-abortion groups.

“We’re going to take it up Monday on the Senate floor,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said during a press call about the bill Thursday.

“There are only seven countries left — just seven — that still permit elective abortion after 20 weeks, including us, unfortunately, China and North Korea,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor earlier Thursday. “I look forward to voting to advance this bill next week.”


On Wednesday, McConnell filed cloture on the motion to proceed on the bill.

The Susan B. Anthony List, a group that focuses on electing women who oppose abortion, has already been on the ground in some battleground states and plans to target voters in states like Wisconsin or Ohio whose Democratic senators may vote against the bill. Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are running for re-election in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.

“We promise that in several of these states … we will definitely take our troops door to door,” the group’s President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. She also noted that while the bill may not pass next week, it will bring awareness to the issue for any subsequent votes on the measure.

Sen. James Lankford, a co-sponsor of the bill, however, does not see this as a messaging bill.

“I want to pass it. So our goal is not just to make messages; it’s to get it done,” the Oklahoma Republican said.

The bill currently has 46 Republican co-sponsors with Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander adding his name to the list Thursday.

In 2015, the bill was defeated 54-42, even with Democratic support from Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. All three are also up for re-election this year; their states all voted for Trump. 

“Majorities matter. We’re going to get some Democratic support for this bill and I appreciate it very much,” Graham said. “It’s just a matter of time ’til we get 60 votes.”

Watch: March for Life Attendees Take On Washington

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