Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, a self-described “pro-life” Democrat, said on Tuesday that he would support an abortion-rights bill scheduled for a Senate vote on Wednesday.
Casey argued that his switch to support the Democrat-led legislation is based on changing circumstances related to the recent leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft of a court opinion that revealed a potential return of abortion laws to individual states.
“This week, I will again vote yes to advance debate on the Women’s Health Protection Act and I will support the bill if there is a vote on final passage in the future,” Casey said in a statement.
“In the nearly three months since the Senate last voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act, the circumstances around the entire debate on abortion have changed. In light of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft overturning Roe v. Wade, and subsequent reports that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate will introduce legislation to enact a nationwide six-week ban, the real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for—nor do I support—such a ban,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to push for the Wednesday vote to put each senator on record regarding the abortion-supporting legislation ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Come next week, Senate Republicans will have to answer for everything they’ve done over the years to embolden the hard right’s hostility against a woman’s choice,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor last week. “They will not be able to hide from the American people and cannot hide their role in bringing Roe to an end. The vote will tell, next week. America will be watching.”
“All week we’ve been seeing Republicans try to duck, dodge and dip from their responsibility for bringing Roe to the brink of total repeal. That’s what they’ve been trying to do for decades,” he added. “Next week, the American people will see crystal clear that when given the chance to right this wrong, the Republican Party will either side with the extremists who want to ban abortion without exceptions, or side with women, with families and the vast majority of Americans.”
The move is not entirely surprising as Casey previously voted to support the Women’s Health Protection Act. In contrast, the Pennsylvania Democrat has voted in support of the Hyde Amendment in the past, a policy banning federal funding of abortion services, as well as a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The statement leaves Sen. Joe Manchin as the only Democrat who has not pledged support for Wednesday’s abortion bill. Manchin has stated he will make his decision on whether to support the proposal on Tuesday.
Even if Manchin supports the bill, it would give 50 Democrat Senate votes to the legislation but would most likely remain far short of the 60 needed to pass under the Senate’s filibuster.