Sen. Susan Collins criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday decision overturning Roe v. Wade as “radical” and warned of “political chaos” with abortion now or soon to be illegal in dozens of U.S. states.
The Republican senator is one of the few remaining members of her party to publicly support abortion rights and introduced legislation earlier this year that would have codified the Roe v. Wade decision in federal law, although the effort stands little chance of passage in the U.S. Senate due to the filibuster.
In a statement on Friday, Collins accused the court of abandoning “a fifty-year precedent at a time that the country is desperate for stability” and characterized the decision as a “sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”
“The threshold question of whether abortion is legal needs to be consistent at a national level. States can account for regional differences with regulations like parental notification requirements, but the basic right needs to be the same for all American women,” she said.
Collins faced pressure from reproductive rights advocates to oppose former President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, including Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, both of whom helped overturn the landmark abortion decision on Friday.
Collins had argued when voting to confirm both that they would not, noting in part that Kavanaugh had told her he viewed the issue as “settled.” Days before her 2020 reelection race and just after Trump installed his third conservative justice on the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, the Maine senator said she did not think Roe was in jeopardy.
But after a draft of the court’s decision was leaked to Politico in May, Collins said that the apparent support of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for overturning the nearly 50-year-old abortion precedent was “completely inconsistent” with what they had told her privately.
In her Friday statement, she reiterated that, saying that both were “insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon” in private meetings prior to their confirmations.
Kavanaugh’s position on Roe was one of the most hotly debated parts of his confirmation. While Collins downplayed the threat to abortion rights at the time, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, said then that the judge’s record indicated he would vote to overturn it or at least “whittle away its protections.”
“This decision is deeply infuriating, but it is unfortunately not a surprise,” King said in a statement.
On Friday, Collins also looked to highlight her work with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, to develop legislation that could codify abortion rights federally. But few other Republicans would be on board with that and both Collins and some Democrats are unwilling to bypass the 60-vote filibuster to pass it.
“Our goal with this legislation is to do what the Court should have done — provide the consistency in our abortion laws that Americans have relied upon for 50 years,” she said.
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