Susan Collins

Sen. Collins Faces Renewed Criticism Following Roe v. Wade Leak

She called the news that Roe v. Wade could be overturned "completely inconsistent" with what justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh told her during hearings and meetings in her office

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Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement Tuesday morning following a Politico report indicating the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Ever since news of the leaked report broke on Monday night, Collins has been receiving heavy criticism online for her votes to confirm both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," she said. "Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”

Collins did not add to these comments when pressed by reporters shortly after they were made public in a press release Tuesday.

In Maine, the news of the draft opinion is prompting some people to recall protests and sit-ins at Collins’ local offices in 2018 while she was considering what would be an eventual vote in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“It’s hard to believe and so discouraging that our healthcare for women is threatened the way it is,” said Dr. Norma Dreyfus, one of the protesters at an event that summer with attendees opposing the nomination.

While Vermont already has a law protecting abortion rights, voters here could go further this fall — deciding whether to codify in the state constitution everyone’s right to decide when to use birth control, start a family, or end a pregnancy.

The reaction from people in Maine who support allowing abortions on Tuesday was similar.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which did not endorse Collins in 2020 after previously supporting her, called the leak “horrifying,” “unprecedented,” and said it, “confirms our worst fears.”

Other abortion rights supporters suggested on social media that Collins was lied to by Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.

Meanwhile, Mainers who are against allowing abortions like Ray Richardson, host of the Ray Richardson Show, said the draft opinion is “the moment I have prayed for as long as I can remember.”

In a phone interview with NECN/NBC10 Boston, Richardson added that Collins made the “right call” to confirm Kavanaugh irrespective of the leaked draft on Roe v. Wade.

In a separate interview with NECN/NBC 10 Boston on Tuesday, Dr. Andrew Rudalevige, chair of the Government and Legal Studies Department at Bowdoin College, said Collins would be more likely to support codifying Roe v. Wade protections into law, something she has already spoken about, rather than another political move like “packing” the U.S. Supreme Court.

In terms of her immediate consequences with Maine voters, Rudalevige said there may not be many because, “she doesn’t have to run for re-election for a while.”

“There are going to be a lot more chapters to this story between now and then,” he added.

In a draft Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito argues that rights need to be "deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition" to be protected. "If that's their approach, then the right to contraception might equally be seen as 'not deeply rooted in our nation's history and tradition,'" says Caroline Mala Corbin, a University of Miami law professor.

A decision to overrule Roe would likely lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year's elections. But it's unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter — opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process.

The court is expected to rule on the case before its term ends in late June or early July.

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