Millions of women are poised to lose control over their own pregnancies – a right of self-autonomy that has been theirs for nearly 50 years and that is inseparable from their ability to build their own future.

Unless the Senate can pass a law protecting access to abortion nationwide, they and they alone will bear the brunt of the Supreme Court’s reckless decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

But to hear Sen. Susan Collins tell it, she’s the real victim here.

Collins, a purported supporter of abortion rights whose votes helped give us the Supreme Court that appears ready to take them away, could rise to the moment. She could put aside her relatively minor concerns and support legislation that would protect those rights. It would be the least she could do.

Instead, she’s acting surprised over something that everyone saw coming, and refusing to take responsibility for her role in it.

This weekend, Collins called police because someone had written a polite message supporting abortion rights in chalk on a public sidewalk outside her house.

Advertisement

At the same time, Collins is jumping right back into the politics that got us here.

Senate Democrats are planning a vote Wednesday on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would put the right to an abortion in federal law.

If Collins genuinely wanted to preserve abortion rights, she would get behind this long-shot bill.

Instead, she’s been criticizing the Women’s Health Protection Act with false claims that it would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, and pushing an alternative that would still allow states to limit abortion so much that it’s not that different from a ban.

If Collins is ever going to stand up for abortion rights, the time is now.

In fact, the chance for her to significantly influence this debate may have ended when she voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who, Collins had maintained, would never vote to overturn Roe but now appears more than ready to.

Advertisement

Now, when the Supreme Court releases its final decision sometime in June, it’s likely that an estimated 30 million women will lose access to abortion.

If a woman gets pregnant in a state where abortion in criminalized – and they aren’t privileged enough to go elsewhere for the procedure – they’ll be forced to take the pregnancy to term. In some places, it won’t matter if it is the result of rape or incest, or whether the pregnancy puts the mother’s health at risk, or whether the fetus is viable or not – already pharmacies are refusing to fill medications necessary after a miscarriage because of their association with abortion.

Collins won’t say what she thinks about the circumstances these women will endure, nor will she talk about her fellow Republicans who have restricted abortion rights across the country – and who she unwaveringly supports with her power and influence.

Of course, abortion rights are protected in Maine, the state she represents, regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court.

But they wouldn’t be if Republicans were in charge. Former Gov. Paul LePage, the likely Republican nominee for governor, is a longtime abortion opponent, and anti-abortion is the official stance of state Republican Party.

Collins will work to get them all elected, even if that means putting abortion rights in Maine in peril, just as she voted for Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, when it was clear their nominations were part of a decades-long process to pack the court with anti-abortion jurists.

Advertisement

She’ll keep maintaining that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied to her, when it’s clear now, if it ever wasn’t, that Collins’ fixation on “settled law” was just for show – a willful refusal on the senator’s part to see what was happening right in front of her so that she could vote to help her party.

Sen. Collins could still change course and fulfill the commitment that she’s made to so many women over the years.

She should join Democrats and put everything she has into overcoming the substantial barriers faced by the Democrats’ bill. She should act to protect abortion rights.

The one thing she shouldn’t do is say that she’s the victim in all this.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login 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.