Sen. Dianne Feinstein Backs Filibuster Carve-Out To Codify Abortion Rights

The California Democratic senator has long been a defender of the filibuster.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), long a defender of the filibuster, said Thursday that she supports a carve-out in order to codify abortion rights.

Feinstein’s comments were in reference to the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law. The bill has twice failed to overcome the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate ― thanks to the filibuster ― to become law.

Senate Democrats previously tried to create an exception to the filibuster for voting rights legislation, but it failed due to opposition from Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.). Feinstein said in a statement Thursday that if the proposed carve-out for abortion rights is similar to that one, “I certainly would vote for it.”

“Let me be clear: If it comes down to protecting the filibuster or protecting a woman’s right to choose, there should be no question that I will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose,” she added.

Feinstein’s stance is notable because she has been less enthusiastic about full elimination of the filibuster, despite pressure from within her own party. She expressed openness to reform in 2021, but has not joined the call for nuking the 60-vote threshold. Last year, she told Forbes, “If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” but “I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.”

Feinstein also had previously been silent on whether she supported a carve-out for abortion rights, in contrast with the state’s other Democratic senator, Alex Padilla, who backs abolishing the filibuster altogether.

President Joe Biden has also called for a filibuster carve-out for abortion rights, but it doesn’t seem likely to go anywhere since Manchin and Sinema are still opposed.

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