Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would stage another vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act as a means to get every senator on record about abortion rights. The Democrats’ legislation failed during a February vote, with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voting against it.
Ms Collins panned the new version of the legislation drafted by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, saying he was superceding federal and state protections for decisions on whether to participate in an abortion.
“Which is very problematic,” she said. “And he has kept in language that supercedes laws that could impede the ability to get an abortion.”
Specifically, the Maine Republican said she worried that it could roll back the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the federal government from funding abortions.
“So, it seems to me that the better approach is the bill I approaced with Senator Murkowski,” she said.
A previous version of the Women’s Health Protection Act explicitly said that governments could not restrict an abortion provider’s ability to prescribe certain drugs, offer abortion services through telemedicine or immediately provide services when providers find think delays would harm the parent’s health.
Similarly, it would say governments could not force abortion providers from performing unnecessary medical procedures, provide medically inaccurate information, have credentials or regulations that do not apply to services that are similar to abortions, or carry out all services related to an abortion.
Conversely, Ms Collins and Ms Murkowski’s legislation, known as the Reproductive Choice Act, would essentially codify the language of Roe v Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion, and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey, which upheld Roe’s“essential ruling” and prohibited “undue burden” on abortion access.
Ms Murkowski and Ms Collins’ legislation says a state cannot impose such an “undue burden” on a woman to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability but that it could restrict a woman’s ability to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy post-viability unless the pregnancy would affect the mother’s health. The legislation would allow states to enact regulations to ensure a woman seeking an abortion’s health and safety.
The Independent asked Ms Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who voted for Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett but opposed Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, about whether she had spoken to Mr Manchin about her legislation.
“Not today,” she said. When asked about how optimistic she was that she could get Democrats on board, she jokingly brought pulled Senator Mark Warner of Virginia next to her and said “will you tell them how optimistic you are about” getting “a bipartisan plan,” he said.