Republicans block contentious Senate abortion rights vote
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Mande Ngan/AFP)

A Democratic drive to make the right to abortion the law of the land failed in the US Senate on Wednesday after Republicans refused to allow a vote on the deeply polarizing issue.

The House-passed Women's Health Protection Act would have created a federal statute ensuring access to terminations for patients nationwide -- but all 50 Republicans and one of the 50 Democrats voted not to consider the legislation.