Politics

Collins and Murkowski, GOP senators who support abortion rights, introduce their own bill

The measure does not explicitly rule out bans on abortion before a fetus is viable or bar any specific prohibitions on abortion methods.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), left, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) arrive to an infrastructure meeting at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times


The two Senate Republicans who support abortion rights, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have raised objections to the Democrats’ bill that is the subject of Wednesday’s vote, and they are promoting alternative legislation.

Collins said she opposed the Democrats’ bill partly because it lacked an exception to give Catholic hospitals the right to refuse to perform abortions.

Collins and Murkowski introduced their own bill, which they describe as codifying Roe v. Wade, in February. Called the Reproductive Choice Act, it is only three pages long and was written without the consultation of reproductive rights groups, according to representatives from those organizations.

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The legislation is simple: It would declare that states cannot impose an “undue burden” on the ability to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability, borrowing key language from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe two decades earlier.

But reproductive rights advocates have said it leaves too much unsaid and lacks clear guidance about what states can and cannot do, putting vital decisions in the hands of courts that have become increasingly hostile to abortion rights. The measure does not explicitly rule out bans on abortion before a fetus is viable or bar any specific prohibitions on abortion methods.

On Wednesday, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he had productive talks with Collins about her alternative. A spokeswoman for Kaine clarified that they had discussed how to come to an agreement on a new bill, not the one Collins introduced in February.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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