Republican Senator Susan Collins has long fancied herself a proponent of reproductive rights while doing absolutely nothing to illustrate that sentiment. And now, according to an LA Times interview, Collins is once again allowing an opportunity to do something, literally anything, in favor of abortion access pass her right on by, because a new bill authored by Democrats goes “too far” in its attempt to codify Roe v. Wade.
The bill, expected to be approved by the House this week, is in part a response to Texas’s S.B. 8, which bans abortions from six weeks after a missed period and deputizes citizens to spy on each other. Democrats are proposing sweeping legislation that would prevent states from creating laws that would interfere with a person’s ability to get an abortion “before fetal viability.” This would mean that someone seeking an abortion could do so without state interference up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Should the bill survive, it would effectively codify Roe v. Wade and protect abortion rights against a hostile Supreme Court.
However, Collins, an alleged moderate, pro-abortion rights Republican, will not support the bill because she says it “goes way beyond [codifying Roe]. It would severely weaken the conscious exceptions that are in the current law.”
To be clear, Collins is concerned that doctors who have particular religious beliefs will be forced to perform abortions against their personal convictions, should the current language in this bill make it into law.
Religious freedoms and protections are a sticky wicket in the United States, a nation full of lapsed Catholics and agnostic protestants. Were this actually Collins’s reasoning behind not supporting the bill, perhaps there would be a nuanced philosophical debate to be had about what supersedes what. However, as is usually the case when religion is brought up by politicians, this is nothing more than a farse—a smokescreen for the fact that Collins wants to continue to be able to say things like, “I support codifying Roe,” while allowing for the exact opposite to happen.
In fact, Collins actively worked to ensure that abortion access was stunted in this country when she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Collins told the Times she is currently in talks with other senators on a bill with different language that would still codify Roe while maintaining the integrity of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; however, of course, she failed to provide any details on those conversations.