The House of Representatives voted 218-210 on Friday to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would effectively codify Roe v. Wade and protect the right to abortion until viability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swiftly scheduled a vote on the legislation in response to a new law in Texas that bans abortion from six weeks after a person’s missed period and deputizes citizens to enforce the law by suing each other.
The bill faces impossible odds in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60-vote majority required to get nearly anything done. So a coalition of major abortion rights groups, including NARAL, came out on Friday in support of eliminating the Senate filibuster to allow Democrats in the upper chamber a better chance of sending the bill to President Joe Biden. By doing so, Democrats could pass bills with a simple majority of 50 votes—though anti-abortion members like Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) might still be tough to convince.
“Now is the time for swift, bold action to safeguard reproductive freedom. Abortion access is being eviscerated across the country,” said Christian LoBue, Chief Campaigns and Advocacy Officer, NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Texas’ horrifying vigilante ban on abortion has left Roe v. Wade in tatters in the second-largest state in the country.”
Added LoBue: “We cannot wait and we cannot allow any excuse or roadblock, including the filibuster, to stand in the way of preserving the right to abortion and expanding access at this critical moment.”
Until Friday, NARAL and Planned Parenthood had both been hesitant to call for eliminating the filibuster, despite calls from progressives to do so. A NARAL spokesperson said in March that the filibuster is “a dynamic, moving target, and we’re watching the conversation really closely.”
Planned Parenthood, which tends to take a more careful approach to politics, did not join the new coalition of groups asking the Senate to scrap the filibuster. The group said in March that it was “not our focus.”