GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski announce support for Democratic pro-abortion legislation
Some conservatives have argued over the years that moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) may as well cross the aisle and join the Democratic Party, given their tendency to vote alongside their left-leaning colleagues on various cultural and social issues.
That argument was substantially bolstered on Thursday when both Collins and Murkowski signed on in support of Democratic legislation to legalize abortions at least through the first trimester, if not all the way up until birth, Life News reported.
The bill has been touted as a bipartisan compromise on the abortion issue that is intended merely to codify and restore the former federal protections for the fatal procedures under the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which was overturned last year by the court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision.
However, while the measure purports to allow states to impose "reasonable restrictions" on abortions after the point of fetal viability outside the womb, usually around the end of a pregnancy's first trimester, Life News noted that language within the bill could be construed by some as allowing exceptions to any such restrictions and would permit abortions up until the actual moment of birth.
A "bipartisan" effort to enshrine abortion rights
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Thursday reintroduced a bill he had filed last year in the prior session of Congress that was in direct response to the Dobbs ruling and was dubbed the Reproductive Freedom for All Act.
"This legislation is proof that there is a bipartisan group in Congress that shares the same important goal of codifying the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade and protecting the right to choose," the Virginia Democrat said in an emailed statement to the outlet. "I look forward to continuing to work with my co-leads to build on our momentum."
Joining Kaine in sponsoring the bill were, as noted, Republican Sens. Collins and Murkowski, as well as Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-AZ), and in addition to protecting pre-viability abortions -- if not beyond, as noted above -- the measure would also codify protections for the right for all to obtain contraception.
Codifying Roe and beyond
The Reproductive Freedom for All Act specifically mentions six separate Supreme Court precedent rulings that deal with abortion or contraception and declares that "All persons shall have the right to make certain reproductive decisions without undue government interference."
If enacted, the measure would prevent states from prohibiting contraception to anyone, including minors, and would bar states from regulating pre-viability abortions, though it would still allow for "laws regarding conscience protection" for healthcare providers who object to performing abortions.
It would also ostensibly allow states to regulate post-viability abortions, unless such regulations constituted an "undue burden" on women, and would allow for exceptions to such regulations to protect the "life and health of the mother," which has been broadly interpreted by some to allow for abortions at any time.
"Republican" senators issue statements in support of abortion rights
"Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, we’ve seen significant erosion of women’s reproductive rights in numerous states across the country -- changes that have taken away rights and regressed access to women’s healthcare by decades," Sen. Murkowski said in a statement in a press release from Sen. Kaine's office. "Now, it’s up to Congress to help restore and protect women’s reproductive rights."
"I’m proud to reintroduce bipartisan legislation with my colleagues to continue the access to contraception provided in Griswold and to make permanent the protections provided through Roe and Casey," the Alaska senator added. "Unless we enshrine reproductive healthcare autonomy into law, we risk a future where generations of women will grow up with fewer rights than their mothers."
Sen. Collins said in a statement, "The Supreme Court’s abandonment of longstanding precedent erodes the reproductive rights on which women have relied for half a century. These basic rights need to be the same for American women regardless of the state in which they reside."
"Our bill would restore the right to obtain an abortion by enacting in federal law Roe v. Wade and other seminal Supreme Court decisions pertaining to reproductive freedom. In addition, our bill would protect access to contraception," the senator from Maine added. "By reinstating -- neither expanding nor restricting -- the longstanding legal framework for reproductive rights in this country, our bill would preserve abortion access along with basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections."