Murkowski helps block a bill to protect abortion rights

Abortion rights demonstrators pose with a cardboard cutout of Lisa Murkowski
Erin Jackson Hill (left), Moira Pyhala and Marmalade the dog pose with a cardboard cutout of Sen. Lisa Murkowski and a sign that reads, “Hey Lisa, pass the Women’s Healthcare Protection Act.” Roughly 200 people gathered at rush hour on May 3 in Anchorage to rally for the protection of reproductive rights. (Photo by Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted Wednesday against advancing a Democratic bill that would protect abortion rights in federal law if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

“I will be opposing the Democrats’ bill that goes far beyond just straight codification of Roe,” she said just before the vote. “And I will continue to try to work to ensure that we are protecting a woman’s right to choose.”

The bill needed 60 votes to advance past a filibuster. It got just 49, all from Democrats.

The Alaska Democratic Party expressed their disapproval on social media by posting an image of Murkowski and a snake.

“Murkowski claims to be pro-abortion rights or ‘pro-choice.’ She’s not,” their Facebook post says.

The Democrats’ bill would expand on the rights established by Roe v. Wade and would invalidate a panoply of state laws that add barriers to abortion. It would, for instance, not allow any abortion restrictions that don’t include exceptions to preserve a patient’s life or health. It also says that governments can’t restrict a health care provider’s ability to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs, or to provide abortion services remotely, by telemedicine.

Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine are the only Republican senators who often vote for abortion rights. They have their own abortion rights bill. It adheres closely to Roe v. Wade and a 1992 decision called Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Their bill says governments can’t impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose abortion before the fetus is viable outside of her body, echoing language from the Casey decision.

Among her objections to the Democratic bill, Murkowski said that it does not protect healthcare providers who refuse to perform abortions based on religious beliefs. Democrats dispute that.

“It also allows late-term abortions without any notable restrictions,” Murkowski said in a written statement explaining her view.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, like all Republicans, voted not to advance the abortion rights bill.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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