Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) sided with the Senate Republicans to vote down a bill that would have codified the right to abortion into federal law on Monday.

The bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass. The bill would have also blocked states from putting restrictions on abortion.

The legislation was never expected to make it past the evenly split 50-50 Senate, but Senate Democrats came under pressure to voice their support for federal abortion rights as Roe v. Wade protections are being debated in the conservative-supermajority U.S. Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court will likely restrict or eliminate Roe v. Wade’s abortion protections altogether.

“It is a dark, dark time for women’s reproductive rights,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) told reporters before the vote. “We cannot simply stand by and let this happen. There is too much at stake.”


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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been known to support abortion rights, but even she voted down the Women’s Health Protection Act, citing implications of religious freedom.

“I have long supported a woman’s right to choose, but my position is not without limits, and this partisan Women’s Health Protection Act simply goes too far. It would broadly supersede state laws and infringe on Americans’ religious freedoms,” Murkowski said.

“The fact that my choice is between this bill, or nothing at all, shows how insincere Majority Leader Schumer is about protecting women’s rights. Failing to conduct any outreach and reducing this important issue to nothing more than a designed-to-fail show vote is a disservice to women across America,” she added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) agreed, calling the policy “radical.”

The Supreme Court’s decision regarding abortion rights is expected by the end of June.

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