Susan Collins’ office has been deluged with a grim reminder of the days before Roe v. Wade, thanks to abortion rights advocates.
Activists have mailed the office of the Maine Republican senator — whose vote is crucial to confirming Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — about 3,000 coat hangers, the Associated Press reported Sunday, as grisly callbacks to what some women resorted to in the days of “back-alley abortions” when the procedure was illegal. Collins supports abortion access and has pledged to oppose any candidates who don’t support Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
She’s also refused, so far, to say how she’ll vote on Kavanaugh when the time comes later this month.
“I always wait until after the hearings are complete before making a decision, and I’ll do so in this case as well,” Collins told the Associated Press.
Kavanaugh’s four days of confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up last week, and he largely managed to avoid making any declarations about how he’ll view on abortion rights. There were, however, a few hiccups: Not only did Kavanaugh provoke outrage when he appeared to refer to some forms of birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs,” but a 2003 email published by the New York Times mid-hearing indicate that Kavanaugh doesn’t believe Roe should be called “settled law of the land.”
That assertion apparently contradicts a meeting Kavanaugh held with Collins last month, where Collins said the Supreme Court nominee told her that he does consider Roe to be “settled law.”
Still, Supreme Court justices are free to overturn “settled law,” and abortion rights advocates fear that Kavanaugh will help a conservative-leaning Supreme Court do just that. If the coat hanger barrage fails and Collins votes for Kavanaugh, activists have another plan up their sleeve. A fundraiser on Crowdpac has now raised more than $878,000 — and if Collins votes for Kavanaugh, that money will be donated to Collin’s 2020 re-election opponent.
Collins isn’t the only senator whose decision on Kavanaugh will be carefully scrutinized. If Democrats want to stop Kavanaugh’s ascent to the Supreme Court, Collins’ Republican (and abortion rights-supporting) colleague Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski must also vote against him.
Like Collins, Murkowski has not yet divulged how she feels about Kavanaugh.
Cover image: Hillary Namba holds a wire coat hanger and a sign that reads "We Won't Go Back," Tuesday, July 10, 2018, as she takes part in a protest in Seattle against President Donald Trump and his choice of federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second nominee to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)