Oregon's two senators, both Democrats, voted on the losing side as the Senate failed to advance federal legislation to bar restrictions on abortion this week.
The vote on S 4132 on Wednesday, May 11, was 51 against — all 50 Republicans plus Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who opposes abortion rights — and 49 for it. Two independents who normally side with Democrats joined 47 Democrats.
The motion to end debate would have required 60 votes.
Although the motion was expected to fail, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said he sought to put every senator on record in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
The House passed similar legislation (HR 3755) by a 218-211 vote on Sept. 24. No Republican voted for it; only one Democrat voted against it. Oregon's delegation split 4-1 along party lines for it.
Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley had these comments afterward.
Wyden, in floor remarks after the vote:
"Mr. President, earlier today the Senate took one the most significant votes I have been a part of in all my time in public service.
"While the Women's Health Protection Act did not pass today, this vote made it very clear on which side every senator stands. The Republicans unanimously voted for criminalized abortion in more than half the states in just a few weeks.
"Democrats voted to stop the Alito Court from turning the clock back on women's health by a century.
"Let's be 100% crystal clear about the consequences of this ruling when it becomes final.
"It will immediately criminalize abortion in many states.
"It will allow the Republicans to pass a law criminalizing abortion in all 50 states.
"It will throw out the constitutional right to privacy — a right upon which marriage, choice and many other civil rights depend.
"And it will put governments in control of women's bodies.
"This is truly a terrifying outcome for millions and millions of people all across the country.
"It is no secret that people have been considering what would happen if and when this far-right Supreme Court would throw out Roe. Less than a month ago, I was on this floor talking about the end of Roe and the danger to Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that affirmed the right of married people to use contraception.
"However, it is still a shock — a gut punch — to see how eager Republican lawmakers are to strip women of their constitutional freedoms and endanger their lives. They are going a lot further than simply overturning Roe.
"All the talk about states' rights has gone out the window — the goal is a federal abortion ban — federal criminalization.
"Already Republicans including governors and statehouse leaders are talking about banning birth control. I will say that again — they are talking about banning birth control!
"Already, there are plans to restrict people's freedom of movement, criminalizing women who travel to other states for an abortion, and even the person who gives them a ride.
"Let's not sugarcoat what that means. They are talking about enacting laws that reach beyond state borders, harkening back to the darkest parts of our history.
"This far-right Alito court has already given far-right lawmakers a green light to do whatever they want when it comes to abortion. There is no reason to trust this court will draw the line at restricting women's freedom of movement.
"Another closely related issue that frightens me deals with data. With abortion criminalized, women's personal data is going to be weaponized against them by bounty hunters and the government.
"I have been sounding the alarm for years about the abuse of location data taken from people's cell phones. In a world where Sam Alito is in charge of abortion laws, that becomes a massive, massive crisis.
"Shady data brokers are already tracking women who go to Planned Parenthood clinics, and they will sell that data to anybody with a credit card. Imagine for a moment what not just prosecutors, but these deranged right-wing vigilantes, will do with this data.
"The apps women use, the websites they visit, the places they go. All of that can and will be used against them by prosecutors.
"In short, this is 'uterus surveillance.' That's what's coming down the pike unless Congress acts and gets serious about consumer privacy and prohibiting the government from making end-runs around the Fourth Amendment.
"It is a shock to me how little concern there seems to be for these major issues. It is a full-out sprint toward massive government overreach and severe restrictions on women's freedom and privacy.
"There's zero thought given to victims of rape.
"There's zero thought given to victims of incest.
"There's zero thought to women being exploited after being forced to seek backroom abortions.
"There's zero thought given to how many more women will die as a result of this ruling …
"Complications during pregnancy could become a death sentence. In states like Texas where law enforcement have already shown the willingness to arrest a women for having a miscarriage, a woman's tragedy of losing a baby will be compounded by the very real threat of criminal prosecution.
"Through all of this, abortions will still happen, they will just happen in conditions that are less safe than they are today.
"I know there are members on the other side who say they care about these issues. They have been saying that for years, and yet we have arrived at this moment.
"Not a single Republican senator voted to protect the law as it stands today.
"The vast, vast majority of people in Oregon and all across the country oppose what the Alito court is inflicting on them by tossing out Roe.
"This is extreme judicial radicalism — proof that these justices were blowing smoke when they told senators they would respect precedent if they were confirmed.
"The bottom line is this: if you don't have control over your own body, you are not free. The Alito court is denying women control over their own bodies. This is an attack on their freedom, and a denial of Americans' right to privacy.
"Criminalizing abortion is wrong, plain and simple. How can we let this stand?
"Today is not the end of this fight. The Senate has taken its vote. Now every American must cast their vote and make clear whether they want to be part of this new Republican reality."
Sen. Merkley, in a statement after the vote:
"Today, every senator was presented with a choice: to defend Americans' right to privacy and abortion rights, or to put politicians in the exam room to dictate the reproductive decisions of America's women. The choice was easy. As I cast my vote in support of the Women's Health Protection Act, I thought of patients and providers unsettled by a near future where we could lose the ability to make our most intimate decisions for ourselves.
"In just a few weeks, five unelected and unaccountable Supreme Court justices are expected to act as a super legislature to rob Americans' of our right to legal abortion and control over our own bodies. It's horrifying and outrageous to all who believe in a free society and who reject government encroachment into our personal lives.
"Today's vote is important because in our democracy citizens need to know where we stand on important issues. I believe Oregonians and the American people do not want MAGA politicians telling survivors of rape and incest that they must stay pregnant. We do not want doctors to fear criminal prosecution for delivering the care that protects the health and life of their patients. Americans do not want politicians and judges in our exam rooms and bedrooms.
"It's up to all of us who believe in freedom and liberty from an overreaching government to create the political change that prevents this nightmare vision from becoming our reality. This weekend, Americans will gather to speak out. We are in a struggle with an extremist minority that wants to control you and your life. I will never give up the fight for protecting and promoting access to health care, including safe and legal abortion care."
Peter Wong is a reporter for Pamplin Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]. This article is used with permission of the Pamplin Media Group. Read more from Oregon’s largest source of independent local news at pamplinmedia.com.