Senator Collins and the Imaginary Roe Decision

by Ellen Kolb | July 6th, 2018

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Senator Collins and the Imaginary Roe Decision

I would not sup­port a nom­i­nee who demon­strated hos­til­ity to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judi­cial phi­los­o­phy did not include a respect for estab­lished deci­sions, estab­lished law.…Roe v. Wade is a con­sti­tu­tional right that is well established.”

Thus spake Sen. Susan Collins (R-​Maine), accord­ing to a CNN report.

But which Roe v. Wade deci­sion does Sen. Collins stand by? There’s the imag­i­nary Roe, which dic­tates that unreg­u­lated abor­tion be avail­able through­out preg­nancy. Then there’s the actual Roe, which per­mits states to leave abor­tion unreg­u­lated but also per­mits many laws pro­tect­ing the lives and safety of mother and pre­born child.

Where does Sen. Collins stand on First Amend­ment pro­tec­tions for peace­ful pro-​life wit­nesses out­side abor­tion facil­i­ties? After all, McCullen v. Coak­ley is “estab­lished deci­sion, estab­lished law.” Or does she con­sider peace­ful pro-​life wit­ness to be an attack on abor­tion rights?

How about restric­tions on pub­lic fund­ing of abor­tion and abor­tion coun­sel­ing? The Supreme Court OK’d such restric­tions decades ago. Abor­tion advo­cates like Planned Par­ent­hood and the ACLU Repro­duc­tive Rights Project use terms like “gag rule” to describe efforts to keep abor­tion providers out of tax­pay­ers’ wal­lets. In the Senator’s view, do restric­tions on pub­lic fund­ing amount to “hos­til­ity” to Roe v. Wade?

Parental noti­fi­ca­tion for minors’ abor­tions, reflec­tion peri­ods before abor­tion, informed con­sent laws, restric­tions on mid– and late-​term abor­tion, pro­tec­tions for chil­dren who sur­vive attempted abor­tion: cer­tain forms of these laws have been found con­sis­tent with Roe. Then again, PP and ACLU con­sider such mea­sures attacks on abor­tion rights.

The pro–Roe Sen­a­tor Collins could vote with a clear con­science for a jurist who sup­ports the abor­tion reg­u­la­tions that have been approved by the Supreme Court since Roe. Such a nom­i­nee would not be hos­tile to the actual Roe deci­sion, even if that nom­i­nee dis­pleased PP and the ACLU.

Maybe one day there will be less def­er­ence to a prece­dent that’s incon­sis­tent with human dig­nity. For now, though, we’re left with won­der­ing what Sen­a­tor Collins means by “hostility.”

Ellen writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf.

Now’s the time to cel­e­brate the First Amend­ment and sup­port inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism by hit­ting DaTip­Jar. Thank you!

“I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law….Roe v. Wade is a constitutional right that is well established.”

Thus spake Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), according to a CNN report.

But which Roe v. Wade decision does Sen. Collins stand by? There’s the imaginary Roe, which dictates that unregulated abortion be available throughout pregnancy. Then there’s the actual Roe, which permits states to leave abortion unregulated but also permits many laws protecting the lives and safety of mother and preborn child.

Where does Sen. Collins stand on First Amendment protections for peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities? After all, McCullen v. Coakley is “established decision, established law.” Or does she consider peaceful pro-life witness to be an attack on abortion rights?

How about restrictions on public funding of abortion and abortion counseling? The Supreme Court OK’d such restrictions decades ago. Abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU Reproductive Rights Project use terms like “gag rule” to describe efforts to keep abortion providers out of taxpayers’ wallets. In the Senator’s view, do restrictions on public funding amount to “hostility” to Roe v. Wade?

Parental notification for minors’ abortions, reflection periods before abortion, informed consent laws, restrictions on mid- and late-term abortion, protections for children who survive attempted abortion: certain forms of these laws have been found consistent with Roe. Then again, PP and ACLU consider such measures attacks on abortion rights.

The pro-Roe Senator Collins could vote with a clear conscience for a jurist who supports the abortion regulations that have been approved by the Supreme Court since Roe. Such a nominee would not be hostile to the actual Roe decision, even if that nominee displeased PP and the ACLU.

Maybe one day there will be less deference to a precedent that’s inconsistent with human dignity. For now, though, we’re left with wondering what Senator Collins means by “hostility.”

Ellen writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. 

Now’s the time to celebrate the First Amendment and support independent journalism by hitting DaTipJar. Thank you!

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