May 10, 2022
Sen. Susan Collins summoned the cops to her house over the weekend to complain about a sidewalk chalk message urging her to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify the abortion rights now in peril thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority--something the Maine Republican played a key role in solidifying.
Police arrived at Collins' home at 9:20 p.m. ET on Saturday, The Bangor Daily News reported Monday. The message, which Bangor police spokesperson Wade Betters described as "not overtly threatening," said: "Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA = vote yes, clean up your mess."
By Monday afternoon, the sidewalk chalk had been washed away.
"We are grateful to the Bangor police officers and the city public works employee who responded to the defacement of public property in front of our home," said Collins.
The Maine Republican was ridiculed online, with critics accusing her of being overly sensitive.
"Our thoughts are with Susan Collins, who called the police because there was chalk on the sidewalk near her house," Indivisible Guide, a progressive advocacy group, wrote Tuesday on social media. "We hope she is alright after enduring such a harrowing ordeal!"
Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft majority opinion reveals that the high court appears poised to vote 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade and its companion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Unless this ruling is significantly revised before it is officially issued, abortion could soon be prohibited in up to 26 states, and the GOP has signaled it could push to enact a federal six-week ban if it retakes Congress and the White House.
The Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) would enshrine patients' right to receive legal and safe abortions and healthcare professionals' right to provide them. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on Monday for a Wednesday vote in the Senate on a modified version of the WHPA.
House Democrats--with the lone exception of right-wing Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas)--supported the passage of the WHPA last September. However, the bill died in the upper chamber in February when Collins joined every Senate Republican and conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) to filibuster the measure.
Since Alito's draft ruling striking down Roe was leaked, Collins and Manchin are among the senators who have doubled down on their defense of the anti-democratic rule, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation.
Former President Donald Trump--who received nearly three million fewer votes than 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton--appointed three far-right justices to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court during his one term: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The trio joined Justice Clarence Thomas in supporting Alito's draft ruling overturning Roe.
In 2017, Senate Republicans bypassed Democrats' opposition to Gorsuch by lowering the threshold for advancing high court nominations from 60 votes to a simple majority--a rule change that also benefited Kavanaugh in 2018 and Barrett in 2020.
Collins had a chance to deny Gorsuch and Kavanaugh their seats on the Supreme Court. Despite the wishes of the majority of her constituents and warnings that the confirmation of more right-wing judicial nominees would spell the likely end of Roe, Collins voted to support Gorsuch and Kavanaugh--claiming that they had assured her of their respect for long-standing legal precedent, including the 7-2 decision from 1973.
After Collins said last week that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh's support for Alito's draft rulingis "completely inconsistent" with what they told her in private meetings and confirmation hearings, Mainers for Responsible Leadership--a group that has long targeted Collins over her right-wing voting record--told Common Dreams that it "looks like it's time for her to call for impeachment" of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
More than three-fifths of people in the U.S. think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a recent survey conducted before Alito's draft ruling was leaked. And a new Data for Progress poll taken after the high court's draft majority opinion was made public shows that likely voters favor the WHPA by a 32-point margin.
Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in February unveiled the Reproductive Choice Act, an opposing bill that would codify Roe while permitting states to restrict abortions after fetal viability.
But as Christina Cauterucci wrote last week in Slate:
Collins' record in the Senate is speckled with ostensibly bold moves that, upon closer examination, function more like feints. She helped save the Affordable Care Act by casting a decisive vote against the Republican Party's attempted repeal, then turned around and voted to repeal the individual mandate. She voted against Betsy DeVos for Trump's secretary of education--but only after voting to greenlight the nomination in committee and send it to a full vote. She made a strong defense of Planned Parenthood when she voted against the ACA repeal, then defamed Planned Parenthood in her support of Kavanaugh, erroneously accusing the group of mounting knee-jerk, partisan campaigns against previous justices.
She has taken some seemingly principled steps to protect the country from the worst of her own party, but only once her ineffectuality was guaranteed. Her vote to convict Trump after his second impeachment trial came with the knowledge that the Senate would not meet the two-thirds threshold required to convict. Ditto the bill she introduced in February with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, which would codify the protections of Roe in U.S. law. The Senate does not have a filibuster-proof supermajority in favor of abortion rights, so the bill is going nowhere. Collins knows that--and she only proposed the bill in response to a more progressive, comprehensive abortion rights bill introduced by Democrats.
Referring to the WHPA, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote Monday in an op-ed that "Congress has the power to make Roe the law of the entire nation."
"The House has already passed legislation to shield abortion rights, and the Senate will take up the bill this week," wrote Warren. "We should debate that bill on the floor and then vote on it--because every American should know exactly where we stand and hold us accountable. But to get that vote and protect Roe, we must end the filibuster."
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