Tammy Baldwin speech
Speaking during US Senate floor debate Tuesday, Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin speaks in support of her bill, the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify the reproductive rights of the Roe v. Wade decision into federal law and prevent states from obstructing those rights. (Screen image via C-SPAN2)

The Women’s Health Protection Act would have prevented a state-to-state checkerboard of rights, bans, and gray areas if Roe were to be struck down by a conservative, activist Supreme Court.

Spurred by her belief Congress must take action any time state laws interfere with Americans’ fundamental rights, Sen. Tammy Baldwin urged her colleagues to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, her bill that would codify the reproductive protections under Roe v. Wade that the current US Supreme Court is threatening to repeal. The bill failed to pass a procedural vote Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, which Baldwin co-sponsored along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), was brought up for a vote after a leaked document indicated the conservative justices are close to throwing out the abortion rights that women have had in the US for nearly 50 years.

All 50 Republicans and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin refused to support the measure.

Along with enshrining Roe v. Wade into federal law, Baldwin said in Tuesday floor remarks that her bill would also “give clarity to the states about what further restrictions they could put into place,” as well as what they could not. Baldwin aimed her remarks at an 1849 Wisconsin law banning abortion that would again take hold if Roe were to be overturned as well as more recent attempts by Republican state legislators to restrict women’s abortion rights.

“There are laws and bills that relate to admitting privileges at local hospitals which are absolutely not medically necessary,” she said, which would “allow all the area hospitals to team up to deny privileges, and then the clinic won’t have a physician able to work there.”

Baldwin pointed to how the overwhelming majority of Americans support a woman’s right to reproductive choices without government interference, including many who are worried about the harms that would come to women if Roe were repealed.

“Americans can remember when back alley abortions killed and sterilized women across the country,” said Baldwin. “This decision, if finalized, will not stop abortions from happening. It will only prevent safe abortions from happening. And it will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color who will not have the privilege of making their own health care decisions.”

There is no word on when the court will formally rule on an abortion case that was the subject of a leaked majority opinion document.