As we begin a new decade, many of us make resolutions, re-evaluate goals and review relationships and commitments. We ask ourselves, what do we want to bring into the new decade and what no longer serves us?

The Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund is asking these same questions.

Our commitment to Planned Parenthood patients and people in need of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care is unwavering. Despite relentless attempts to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers, the doors remain open.

But it would be naive to pretend the political climate hasn’t changed over the past decade.

While support for safe, legal abortion is at a record high and there’s not a state in the country where banning abortion is popular, extreme politicians continue to do everything they can to take away our rights, including remaking the courts to make it harder, if not impossible, for people who decide to end a pregnancy to get a safe, legal abortion from a provider they know and trust.

In only three years, the Senate has confirmed 185 of President Trump’s judicial nominees, more than any of the last five presidents at the same time in their presidencies.

One in four seats on federal appeals courts is now held by a Trump appointee, though a number of Trump nominees have been unanimously rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.

As a result, we can no longer depend upon the pragmatic, thoughtful approach of our country’s courts to be a backstop for political attacks on birth control, LGBTQ rights or abortion.

Opponents know this.

Last year, the court announced it would review a Louisiana law restricting abortion, even though a nearly identical law in Texas was struck down by the same court only three years ago.

By agreeing to hear the Louisiana case, the Supreme Court is reconsidering its own 2016 decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. If the court upholds the Louisiana law in defiance of its own precedent, it could dramatically weaken or overturn protections of prior cases. Over 200 members of Congress submitted a brief asking the court to use this moment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

To be clear, the only difference between Whole Woman’s Health and the Louisiana case is that Justice Anthony Kennedy was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh. With Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a majority of justices are on the record hostile to safe, legal abortion.

We all witnessed the hasty process, incomplete investigations and serious questions of his temperament and character that preceded Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

And while Americans and Mainers are divided in their opinions on the process and outcome, those on the left and the right agree that Susan Collins was instrumental in Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Like many Mainers, I watched Sen. Collins’ speech justifying her vote with a sinking feeling. I listened as she discounted the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford while never addressing Kavanaugh’s behavior or his outbursts. For many voters, this was the tipping point. Shocked, hurt and frustrated, patients, supporters and people on the street repeatedly said, “I guess she’s not who I thought she was.”

Certainly, flipping the balance of the Supreme Court against safe, legal abortion will have major consequences, some of which we can’t even predict, and will affect us and our country for decades.

But it’s more than that.

It’s the politicians in 17 states who rushed to pass bans on abortion, because they saw an opportunity to drastically restrict women’s rights and freedoms now that Kavanaugh was on the court. Proponents declaring “Why not go all the way?” and outlaw abortion in all circumstances.

And it’s Sen. Collins’ silence in this moment. It’s her refusal to act to stand up for the women whose lives hang in the balance.

It’s clear that Sen. Collins is not the leader she once was, particularly when it comes to reproductive health and rights. In this increasingly partisan environment, Sen. Collins is choosing to prioritize her party, her colleagues and judicial nominees whose primary qualification for lifetime appointments is allegiance to a political agenda.

She may feel that is now what’s best for Mainers. But that is not what’s best for Planned Parenthood patients or the thousands of Mainers in need of affordable, high-quality sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.

In the past, we trusted Sen. Collins to stand up for Planned Parenthood patients and put their health and well-being ahead of partisanship and political games.

We can no longer do so.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.