Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and other top Republicans have mostly refrained from boasting about the impending demise of Roe since the draft opinion surfaced, focusing instead on the unprecedented Supreme Court leak. Their responses suggest that they, too, see the potential for a battle over abortion rights to hurt their party ahead of the midterm congressional elections, and are working to reframe the issue to their advantage by portraying Democrats as extreme on the subject.
Democrats on Thursday dismissed the leak as a minor infraction compared with the substance of the document that was revealed. More concerning to them than a breach at the court, they said, was the fact that Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices appeared to have misled them during their confirmation hearings when they stated that Roe v. Wade was an important precedent.
“If you want to talk about process, I would focus on that process,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, referring to statements made by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and others on the issue of abortion rights as “fraudulent testimony.”
Democrats said their bill had gained urgency since the last time they tried to take it up in February. Back then, the threat to abortion rights was more theoretical. Now, they said, it has taken on new significance with the end to a constitutional right suddenly imminent.
They have also altered the measure in an effort to garner more support among Republicans who back abortion rights, removing a lengthy series of findings, including passages that referred to abortion restrictions as “a tool of gender oppression” and as being “rooted in misogyny.” Also scrapped was a section clarifying that while the bill refers to women, it is meant to protect the rights of “every person capable of becoming pregnant,” including transgender men and nonbinary individuals.
Understand the State of Roe v. Wade
But the fundamentals of the bill remain the same. It states that health care providers have a legal right to perform abortions, and patients to receive them, and would expressly nullify a wide range of requirements, restrictions and bans.
Democrats had hoped that removing the nonbinding findings could win over Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two Republicans who support abortion rights.