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Senate to vote on a bill that codifies abortion protections, but it will likely fail

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer answers questions from reporters on Capitol Hill ahead of a planned vote Wednesday on the Women's Health Protection Act. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on the Women's Health Protection Act, a Democrat-led bill that would effectively codify a right to an abortion.

It's an effort largely seen as symbolic, as Democrats do not have enough support from Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would be a vote on the bill after a leaked draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito revealed last week that the court is likely to overturn the 50-year-old protections of abortion rights granted under the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

"I think it's really important to have this vote to show where everyone stands," Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told NPR on Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's comments over the weekend that Republicans might try to move legislatively on a nationwide abortion ban also upped the stakes for Democrats.

The draft opinion from the court would not issue a national ban, but it would allow states to do so.

While it's unlikely that the bill will pass, Democrats did manage to get support from Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey who said he would vote in favor of the legislation.

Casey is one of few anti-abortion Democrats in office. His father, Bob Casey Sr., was Pennsylvania governor during the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which upheld Roe but paved the way for abortion restrictions.

In a statement, the younger Casey said the circumstances around abortion rights in the country have changed over the last few months. He cited the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court and the possibility that Republicans might try to codify a national ban on abortions.

"During my time in public office, I have never voted for — nor do I support — such a ban," Casey said.