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One Pro-Choice Senator Won’t Support an Abortion Rights Bill

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Posted: Sep 23, 2021 2:45 PM
One Pro-Choice Senator Won’t Support an Abortion Rights Bill

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Ever since Texas' new abortion law, S.B. 8, took effect, Democrats have been quick to draft legislation to upend it along with other statewide abortion restrictions. Now, with the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization Supreme Court case on the horizon, which calls into question the constitutionality of Mississippi's proposed 15-week abortion ban, pro-abortion politicians are pushing legislation that would "codify" the precedents set by Roe v. Wade into federal statute. This kind of legislation would not allow states to set abortion restrictions before 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

The bill, the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and several pro-abortion House members, such as Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), would codify Roe and, in turn, strike down state restrictions on abortion before 24 weeks, such as in Texas, where S.B. 8 outlawed abortion upon fetal heartbeat detection at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a longtime Republican and pro-abortion advocate, said she will not support the Democrat's bill that would prohibit states from enacting restrictions on abortion through fetal viability, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

As I previously reported, WHPA "would guarantee abortion access nationwide regardless of statutes implemented at the state level to curtail abortion" and "[attack] restrictions placed on abortion, such as mandatory ultrasounds and waiting periods, deeming them 'invasive,' 'costly,' and 'unnecessary.' The bill also claims that restricting access to abortion, therefore, restricts women's access to contraceptives and screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, the bill states that abortion restrictions 'reinforce harmful stereotypes about gender roles' and are a 'tool of gender oppression.'" 

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Collins said, "I support codifying Roe. Unfortunately the bill … goes way beyond that. It would severely weaken the conscious exceptions that are in the current law." Collins added on, saying she found parts of the bill's language "extreme." 

As the Los Angeles Times reported, there is likely "lingering hostility" geared toward Collins from other pro-abortion lawmakers, as she voted to confirm conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Kavanaugh was one of the Justices who upheld Texas' abortion law this month in a 5-4 vote. 

“The Maine Republican’s opposition to the Democrats’ bill is likely to further fuel liberals’ distrust of Collins, who is one of only two remaining Republicans in Congress who support abortion rights, along with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

There is lingering hostility from liberals over Collins’ vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. He voted in favor of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Texas law to take effect and is viewed as a likely vote to undermine Roe.

Collins defended her support for Kavanaugh. ‘People ought to read what the decision actually said. It said there’s serious constitutional and procedural issues which clearly the court is going to take up,” Collins said. “I think we need to wait and see what happens.’”

While Collins is not supporting this particular bill, she reportedly told the Los Angeles Times she is working on a potential bill that "truly would codify Roe." A couple of Democratic senators, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), will not co-sponsor WHPA.