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Senator Collins’ Statement on Partisan Bill Designed to Fail

Senators Collins and Murkowski have introduced their own bill to codify Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey

In contrast to the sweeping Women’s Health Protection Act, the Reproductive Choice Act would simply codify Roe, Casey protections


Washington, D.C. – Ahead of today’s sure-to-fail Senate vote on partisan legislation that is substantively the same as the bill that the Senate rejected on a bipartisan basis in February, Senator Collins released the following statement:


“I support codifying the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  That’s not what the Women’s Health Protection Act would do,” said Senator Collins. “Unlike some far-left activists, Senator Murkowski and I want the law today to be the law tomorrow.  That’s why we introduced legislation in February that would enshrine the important Roe and Casey protections into law without undercutting statutes that have been in place for decades and without eliminating basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections to performing abortions. 


“Contrary to claims from Senate Democratic leaders that their bill would not infringe upon the religious rights of individuals and religious institutions, the WHPA explicitly invalidates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in connection with abortion and supersedes other longstanding, bipartisan conscience laws, including provisions in the Affordable Care Act, that protect health care providers who choose not to offer abortion services for moral or religious reasons.


“After today’s vote fails, I plan to continue working with my colleagues on legislation to maintain – not expand or restrict – the current legal framework for abortion rights in this country.”


U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation in February that would codify the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade (1973) and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). A motion to proceed to the Women’s Health Protection Act failed in February (46-48).


The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) goes far beyond what is necessary to codify the abortion rights in Roe and Casey.  For example:


  • The WHPA would supersede all other federal and state laws, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which both Senators Collins and Murkowski support because it provides critical protections for religious liberties.  Congress has never before adopted legislation that contains an exemption to this religious liberty law, which was authored by Majority Leader Schumer when he served in the House and passed by overwhelming, bipartisan margins in 1993. 


  • The WHPA’s overly broad language far exceeds Roe by striking down state laws such as those that require certain materials to be given to the patient, prohibit sex-based abortions, or require parental or guardian notification for minors seeking an abortion.


By contrast, the Reproductive Choice Act (RCA) closely tracks the Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey and would provide reassurance to women that the reproductive rights they have relied on for nearly 50 years will continue to be the law of the land.  It does not include any of the extraneous and over-reaching provisions in WHPA.  In particular, the RCA:


  • Would prohibit states from imposing an “undue burden” on the ability of a woman to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability;


  • Would continue to allow states to enact regulations to further the health or safety of a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy, while clarifying that unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a “substantial obstacle” to a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy constitute an “undue burden”;


  • Would continue to permit states to restrict the ability to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman as consistent with Roe and Casey; and


  • Would not have any effect on laws regarding conscience protections, including laws that protect health care providers who refuse to provide abortions for moral or religious reasons.


Click HERE for the text of Senators Collins and Murkowski’s bill.





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