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Surprising No One, Susan Collins Will Not Support New Abortion Rights Bill

Close up of Susan Collins' face as she looks down

Maine’s Senator Susan Collins is one of just a very few Republicans in office who say they support reproductive freedoms and access to abortion. Collins (along with Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, possibly the only other member of this club) presents herself as the rare pro-choice moderate Republican. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other pro-choice/abortion rights groups have donated to her campaigns in the past. Planned Parenthood even gave her an award a few years ago.

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Yes, Susan Collins loves to say she’s pro-choice. But once again, she is finding a way to justify being incredibly anti-choice in her actions.

House Democrats have advanced an abortion rights bill that’s expected to pass in a full vote Friday. Yet its fate in the Senate does not look great. Democrats hold a very slim majority in the Senate, but it’s likely not enough to pass the bill, especially since there are a few anti-choice Democrats still in office. This is a moment when those purported pro-choice Republicans really need to step up and fight for those reproductive freedoms they claim to support. So, naturally, they won’t.

In a brief interview with the LA Times, Collins says she will not support the Women’s Health Protection Act because she finds parts of the bill too “extreme.” She also says that it would violate the “religious freedoms” of anti-choice doctors.

“Collins said the bill goes further than [legalizing abortion] by interfering with existing law that ensures health professionals who object to abortion are not required to participate in it,” writes the Times.

I’ve read the bill in its entirety and I have to tell you, I have literally no idea what Collins is talking about. There’s nothing in the legislation that would force a doctor to perform an abortion, it simply gives health care providers the “statutory right” to perform abortions, and patients the right to receive them.

And while the bill is a direct response to Texas’ new extreme six-week abortion ban, the bill’s authors say they started drafting it a decade ago in response to the growing number of restrictions placed on abortion providers—restrictions that are designed to look like safety measures but in reality, only exist to “delay or deter some patients in accessing abortion services,” as the bill aptly puts it.

As the Times notes, this bill is not likely to pass in the Senate with or without Collins, but that does not mean there aren’t other benefits to a full vote. “Though it remains unclear whether the legislation would even achieve a simple majority of 50, some abortion rights supporters, including [bill author Richard] Blumenthal, are pushing for a vote to force senators to go on the record on abortion rights.”

(image: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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