For Immediate Release
Senators Who Claim to be Allies to Women Cannot Vote to Confirm Brett Kavanaugh in Light of New Sexual Assault Allegations
n light of breaking reports that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, NARAL Pro-Choice America has compiled a new report detailing how Senators Dean Heller, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Cory Gardner, Ted Cruz, Heidi Heitkamp, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski have publicly condemned sexual assault and, in some cases, supported legislation to protects women and victims of sexual violence. Now, Americans are depending on them to stay true to those statements and demand Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn.
Allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford add to the mounting reasons that Brett Kavanaugh is no ally to women, despite Senate Republicans’ desperate attempts to paint him as such in order to downplay the very real threat he poses to Roe v. Wade. Many senators have rightfully taken stands in the past on behalf of women everywhere in light of the #MeToo movement and a wave of brave survivors coming forward to hold accountable those responsible.
Senators who claim to be allies to women can stop Kavanaugh from ascending a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Senators owe it to women in America to examine all the evidence before them, and if they do so in earnest, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve and his nomination must be withdrawn.
These Senators have claimed to support survivors of sexual assault and violence. Now is the time they must be true to their word.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)
In the past, Collins has stated:
- That she did not vote for Trump because of the sexual assault allegations against him: “those allegations remain very disturbing.”
- “Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence should have access to every resource available to ensure their safety” in a joint op-ed with Senator Angus King .
- “I want to thank the very brave young athletes who have spoken out about their personal experiences of sexual abuse and shone a spotlight on this horrendous crime,” during a press conference with gymnasts who had been sexually abused by coaches or trainers.
- Sexual assault incidents are “heinous.”
Additionally, Collins has:
- Displayed a willingness to go further than many of her colleagues in condemning Trump’s sexual assault allegations
- Championed legislative effort to decrease instances of sexual assault on college campuses and to provide justice for survivors and perpetrators.
- Showed disappointment with the RNC support of Roy Moore, even going as far as to call it a “mistake.”
- Dedicated funding in her home state of Maine to combat sexual assault and domestic violence, including:
- $240,000 in funding for Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV)
- $300,000 in funding for sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy in immigrant community
- $1.18 million in funding for rural domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking assistance programs
- $1.7 million in funding to support legal services for domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking victims
- $147,891 in funding for Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
In the past, Murkowski has stated:
- “Sexual assault survivors deserve better care” in an op-ed. The piece began: “The loss and despair that accompanies a survivor’s trauma makes my stomach churn.” Murkowski outlined the trauma sexual assault survivors face and the difficulty they have sharing their experiences and receiving treatment. She concluded that the legislation she promoted in the piece was “one of many steps I will take to support the brave individuals who have not had the necessary resources to seek the justice they need.”
- “I have been fortunate that, throughout my professional career, I have been able to navigate without some of the overt harassment that we're seeing exposed… But I know far too many women who have been in that situation — that, for me, it is like lifting a weight, to know that what was once just accepted as — ‘This is what's going to happen if you're going to go into that field; you just better accept it, so put on your big-girl panties and just stand up straight and push back.’ No. You don't have to accept it. And it's important for the women, and it's important for the men. And as the mother of two sons, it's really important for me to know they're entering their adulthood in an environment where there's a respect for one another based on who you are and what you contribute. That is important to me as a mom, personally, but also as a friend to many who have been held back.” These comments were said in a discussion on the #MeToo movement.
- On sexual harassment in the workplace: "We have a choice to make; either sit on the sidelines and hope for change, or roll up our sleeves to make the change. We must work to identify where harassment is its most pervasive; where it has been allowed to foster in a culture of silence, disrespect, intimidation, and abuse. And we must empower victims to speak out about the harassment they face.”
Additionally, Murkowski has:
- Proposed the government play a role in the #MeToo movement through the “EMPOWER Act,” which would prevent companies from using non-disclosure agreements to keep employees from speaking up about sexual harassment.
- Called out the “culture of harassment & assault being exposed on a daily basis.” She went even further saying “Whether you are in the media, politics, or anywhere else abuse of power is unacceptable & shouldn’t be tolerated at any place at any level.”
- Joined women senators to push for reform of sexual harassment and discrimination rules
- Introducing a bipartisan bill to increase access to forensic exams and care for sexual assault domestic violence survivors.
- Condemned University of Alaska Fairbanks’ negligence in sexual assault cases by saying, “Students should be assured of fairness, justice, and security on their campus”
- Questioned military officials over how sexual assaults involving minors are resolved and called for reform of military sexual assault policies.
- Called on both Roy Moore and Al Franken to “step down immediately” following accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota)
In the past, Heitkamp has stated:
- Regarding the #MeToo movement: “I hope more women now feel empowered to speak up and to defend their right to live free of harassment and assault.” She said, “This is about more than changing laws or punishing certain behavior – both of these are important -- but it requires a comprehensive cultural change to instill the values that say as a society this is not okay and this not acceptable. I hope more women now feel empowered to speak up and to defend their right to live free of harassment and assault.” [Bismarck Tribune, 10/23/17]
- On Twitter: “Thanks to the brave women who've spoken up during the past few weeks. I'll always fight for survivors of sexual & domestic violence. #MeToo”
- When calling for Senator Franken to resign, “We must commit to zero tolerance — which is where I believe we as a country and Congress should be.”
Additionally, Heitkamp has:
- Introduced a bipartisan bill to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
- Raised awareness of the increased likeliness of sexual assault facing American Indians.
- Used the Senate floor to call on the military to prevent sexual assault.
- Dedicated federal funding to support victims of sexual assault including:
- $1.2 million to provide vital support services and enhance criminal justice efforts on behalf of victims of sexual and domestic violence.
- $401,000 to fight domestic and sexual violence at an abused adult resource center
- $600,000 to combat domestic violence in Devils Lake & on Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA) Nation
- $3 million to combat violence against women in the Bakken Region
- $600,000 to continue helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana)
In the past, Donnelly has stated:
- "The FBI estimates that a rape occurs in Indiana every five hours. That is a tragedy, and we owe the survivors of rape, sexual assault, and stalking our full support and protection” while discussing the Violence Against Women Act.
- On the personal damage caused by sexual assault: “it is the risk of personal violation of somebody, it is the risk of destroying that person’s internal soul, their emotional state, their physical state.”
- “Regardless of political party, sexual harassment and sexual abuse are unacceptable” while condemning Senator Al Franken.
Additionally, Donnelly has:
- Championed numerous bills protecting amateur athletes, children and members of the military from sexual abuse and assault and supported the Violence Against Women Act.
Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada)
In the past, Heller has stated:
- In September 2018: "As a husband and father of two daughters, I am grateful for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ending these heinous crimes is a top priority of mine, which is why I have been a continuous supporter of the Violence Against Women Act.”
- In 2014: “As a father of two daughters, ending domestic violence has always been a top priority of mine. I’ve supported legislation against domestic abuse, held roundtables combating sexual assault on college campuses, and served as a staunch supporter in protecting women from violent acts by their loved ones. Addressing these issues transcends politics and is the main reason I’ve worked in a bipartisan manner to combat them.”
- In a video in the Senate: “There is no place in any society for these horrifying acts of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Additionally, Heller has:
- Worked repeatedly to pass policies and increase funding to combat Nevada’s rape kit backlog
Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)
In the past, Manchin has stated:
- While announcing over $2 million in funding to combat sexual assault in West Virginia: "Any act of violence is one too many, and fighting on behalf of the victims who are suffering is of the highest priority to the people of West Virginia. Violence Against Women programs make a tremendous difference in our state and across our nation. They save lives and strengthen communities. They offer protection and create channels of hope. As a staunch supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, I am pleased that these grants will continue to fund innovative, successful programs that provide protection to victims of violence, especially those in remote and geographically isolated areas who face barriers to accessing services." [Senator Joe Manchin press release, 9/11/15]
- In a speech on the Senate floor: “Ensuring that women and children have adequate protection against violence just makes common sense. And to the people of West Virginia, I know this is a high priority.”
- In August 2018: "Sexual assault is a horrific and devastating crime and survivors deserve every resource to begin recovering from the physical and emotional trauma. The development of a statewide Sexual Assault Response Team is an important step in ensuring every West Virginian has access to these resources. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue advocating for these resources.”
Additionally, Manchin has:
- Championed funding to combating sexual assault and rape in West Virginia, introduced legislation to protect students from sexual violence, and supported the Violence Against Women Act.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado)
In the past, Gardner has stated:
- "Over the past few months, our country has experienced a much-needed transformation when it comes to listening to courageous women share their stories about harassment. No one should be forced to work in an environment where they are made to feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Let me be extremely clear: sexual harassment and workplace misconduct has no place in America, and certainly has no place in the United States Congress.”
- During his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate: "I will continue to pursue opportunities to protect women in the country.”
- As NRSC chair: “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Additionally, Gardner has:
- Supported legislation to combat sexual harassment in Congress and ran on his support for the Violence Against Women Act and ending sexual assault on campus
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
In the past, Cruz has stated:
- In 2013: “The Supreme Court defined rape, short of murder, as the ultimate violation of self.”
- “In the recent months, we've seen scores of victims come forth with horrific stories of sexual abuse & harassment. Sadly, we also discovered a pattern of secret taxpayer-funded settlements for members of Congress accused of harassment or assault. That is unacceptable.”
- On Twitter: “Perpetrators must be held accountable, and no one is above the law. For months, @SenGillibrand (D–N.Y.) and I have been fighting for reform. This bipartisan deal empowers victims to report sexual harassment and helps bring their perpetrators to justice.” [Twitter, 5/24/18]
Additionally, Cruz has:
NARAL Pro-Choice America fights for reproductive freedom for every body. Each day, we organize and mobilize to protect that freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, aid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination.