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Congress weighs abortion-rights options after Roe v. Wade overturned

Nancy Pelosi
Posted at 11:11 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 11:11:54-04

Now that the 1970s Supreme Court precedent of Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion could be banned in dozens of states in the coming months.

The ruling gives states the option to enact their own laws regarding abortions.

While it’s likely that Republican-held states will move forward with enacting abortion bans, Congress still has the option — both to enact a nationwide abortion ban or to make abortion legal nationally.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed on Friday a Republican-led Congress would attempt to enforce a nationwide abortion ban.

“Reproductive freedom is on the ballot this November,” Pelosi said. "We cannot allow them to take charge so that they can institute their goal which is to criminalize reproductive freedom.”

If Democrats in Congress try and pass a law to codify the right to abortion into federal law, that would start an entirely new legal fight.

However, it's doubtful Democrats have the necessary votes to do that right now. The Senate is split 50-50. Several moderate Democrats have expressed opposition to lifting the Senate’s filibuster that would require 60 votes.

One of those expressing opposition to a filibuster is Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. He hopes that enough Republicans would be in favor of codifying abortion rights nationwide.

“I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected,” he said. “I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that.”

So far, few Republicans have expressed an openness to such a measure.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has already indicated he might try to do something alone when the actual opinion comes down.

The president has directed his Gender Policy Council and the White House Counsel's Office "to prepare options for an Administration response."

New legal fights will emerge and those will likely involve the White House.

Reporting from Joe St. George contributed to this story.