OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Democrat Party’s plans to create a law to give women the right to abortions nationwide, rather than having states decide abortion laws, has been torpedoed.
Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who says that she supports abortion rights, announced that she opposes the Democrats’ Women’s Health Protection Act, “which would prohibit states from enacting restrictions on abortion through fetal viability,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
The House is expected to approve the bill Friday. In the Senate, Democratic leaders are considering whether to bring it to a vote.
Democrats, led by bill author Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, say their legislation would codify the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
But in a brief interview, Collins said the bill goes further than that by interfering with existing law that ensures health professionals who object to abortion are not required to participate in it.
The senator still said she supports protecting Roe V Wade but had issues with this bill.
“I support codifying Roe. Unfortunately the bill … goes way beyond that. It would severely weaken the conscious exceptions that are in the current law,” she said. The senator said she found parts of the bill’s language “extreme.”
She said that the legislation would damage the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects people’s ability to practice their religion.
“This ‘carve out’ would be unprecedented, and I do not believe it is necessary to codify Roe,” she said.
The House is still expected to pass the bill on Friday and Democrat leaders in the Senate “are considering whether to bring it to a vote.”
The debate regarding abortion rights has become a major issue since Republicans in Texas passed an extremely restrictive abortion bill that would allow private citizens to sue anyone involved in abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and that has Joe Biden’s Justice Department fighting back.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that his agency will “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services” under a federal law referred to as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” he added. “We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act.”
Garland said the DOJ will try to fight back against the Texas law, saying his agency will “protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion.”
Garland told CNN on Sunday:
We have the best lawyers at the Justice Department looking for legal remedies to protect women who are seeking to exercise their constitutional rights. We have the team at HHS looking at what means we can do to try to get women the healthcare services they need in the face of this Texas law, and we have the gender policy counsel here at the White House, the first time a president’s ever had a policy counsel devoted to gender issues coordinating all this work to bring options forward for the president and the vice president.
That came after the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions.
In a 5-4 vote, the Court refused to step in to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The measure is arguably one of the most pro-life laws in the country.
Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito voted in the majority to uphold the Texas abortion ban.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a supposed Republican, joined the court’s three liberal members in dissent.