Collins is lashing out at critics who want her to stop Brett Kavanaugh from becoming the next Supreme Court justice — instead of actually taking responsibility for a decision that could set back civil rights in the U.S. by generations.
As the Senate decides whether to confirm Trump's extremist Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, all eyes are on "moderate" Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who promised in July that she "would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade."
Now Collins, who claims to be pro-choice and has bucked her own party in the past to support Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, seems poised to do exactly that — by voting to confirm Kavanaugh.
There’s no question that Kavanaugh would support overturning or gutting Roe v. Wade, ending the nationwide right to safe, legal abortion. There’s also a serious risk that his views on basic privacy rights could spell doom for legal birth control or LGBTQ freedoms. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So Collins is making absurd excuses to justify the dangerous and deadly vote she seems willing to cast, by attacking those who want her to vote no.
Collins is smearing a grassroots campaign that is raising funds to oppose her re-election in 2020 in the event that she votes for Kavanaugh, calling legitimate political speech an attempt to bribe her — as if citizens running a transparent crowdfunding effort were more dangerous to democracy than shadowy super PACs pouring millions into pro-Kavanaugh ads.
Collins' Republican colleagues also accuse her critics of waging a "vulgar" intimidation campaign that Collins must now heroically rise above.
Collins has reportedly received abusive phone calls and correspondence, ranging from curse words to threats of violence. Of course, threats of violence are in no way OK, and are also a crime. But Republican senators seem more interested in clutching their pearls over f-bombs than about protecting women's safety, whether it's Collins' or anyone else's.
The implication of these responses is sickeningly clear: Collins wants to seem independent, but in the end she will probably decide to be a GOP team player, sell out the pro-choice values she claims to hold, and vote for Kavanaugh.
Some perspective is in order about what this will mean.
The Wall Street Journal defended Collins against alleged incivility by calling the movement to oppose Kavanaugh "undignified" and "embarrassing."
But you know what's really "embarrassing"? How about having to talk to your boss about whether you can get birth control through your company's health plan?
You know what's really "undignified"?
How about being criminally investigated after having a miscarriage because a prosecutor suspects you might have self-induced an abortion?
How about being forced to continue even a normal, healthy pregnancy against your will, with the inevitable excruciating pain, thousands of dollars, and risk of lifelong medical complications that comes with it?
None of these outcomes are theoretical; they've all happened to women in this country in recent years. Without Roe, these nightmares — and worse — will become routine for pregnant Americans.
If Collins is really pro-choice and supports women's rights, she should be fighting against this with everything she has.
Instead, she seems willing to accept Kavanaugh's oh-so-carefully parsed confirmation hearing testimony — which often sounded supportive of Roe on the surface, but actually revealed his callous indifference to the blood-and-guts reality of women's reproductive lives.
Collins seems to want enough plausible deniability about Kavanaugh and reproductive rights that she can justify voting for him now, then claim to have been betrayed and hoodwinked later when he inevitably provides the fifth vote to gut Roe v. Wade.
The real question is, why?
Does Collins just not care that much after all about reproductive freedom? Or is she just naive enough to believe Kavanaugh's assertion that Roe v. Wade is "settled law," while ignoring every other piece of evidence that he would be perfectly willing to unsettle it?
And if she's willing to look away from this evidence, what does she hope to gain as a result? Gold stars from the GOP? The soothing belief that the party she has chosen doesn't really want to take away women's rights, and that any idea to the contrary is just liberal hysteria? The comforting lie that life is basically fair and that the road to justice for all is perfectly linear, with no crackdowns or setbacks along the way?
Yes, many people are desperately afraid of what will happen if Kavanaugh is nominated. They are panicked, angry, even furious.
And they have every reason to be. All of our bodies, all of our lives, all of our freedoms, are on the line.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.