U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says she would support legislation that would put the protections in two critical abortion rights cases into law, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“Senator Collins supports the right to an abortion and believes that the protections in the (Roe v. Wade) and (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) decisions should be passed into law,” Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, said in a statement. “She has had some conversations with her colleagues about this and is open to further discussions.”

The statement came after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case out of Mississippi that advocates worry could put constraints on abortion rights and threaten the landmark Roe case as well as the 1992 Casey decision, which upheld Roe and said states could not place an “undue burden” on the right to abortion.

Collins, a Republican who was re-elected to a fifth term in November 2020, has been criticized for her support of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose appointment to the court in 2018 raised concerns among Democrats and abortion rights advocates about the preservation of Roe.

Collins acknowledged concerns Kavanaugh might seek to overturn Roe in her Senate floor speech announcing her support for his nomination, but said at the time he had assured her of a commitment to precedent.

“We talked about whether he considered Roe (v. Wade) to be settled law,” Collins said following an Aug. 2018 meeting with Kavanaugh. “He said he agreed with what (Chief Justice John Roberts) said at his nomination hearing, in which he said it was settled law. We had a very good, thorough discussion.”

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the court in 2020 solidified a conservative majority and further raised concerns among Democrats and abortion rights advocates about threats to Roe. Collins voted against Barrett’s confirmation to the court, which took place just over a week before Election Day and as Collins was locked in a tight race with Democrat Sara Gideon.

Clark said Collins would not be commenting more broadly on the case that was argued before the court on Wednesday.

“Senator Collins supports the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” Clark said. “She didn’t listen to the oral arguments and intends to wait for the court’s decision before commenting.”

NBC News was first to report on Collins’ support for codifying the protections in Roe v. Wade on Wednesday, though the senator previously made similar comments to WGME in September after a new abortion law went into effect in Texas.

The House passed legislation in September in the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify abortion rights, though Clark said there are provisions in that bill Collins is opposed to.

“Unfortunately, the House Democrats’ bill goes far beyond codifying Roe and Casey,” Clark said. “For example, their legislation would severely weaken protections afforded to health care providers who refuse to perform abortions on religious or moral grounds.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, D-1st District, a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, also issued a statement on the arguments heard in the Mississippi case Wednesday, saying she is “deeply concerned that the Supreme Court has signaled it would throw out 50 years of settled law to uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban.”

“More than two months ago, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which I proudly cosponsored, to codify Roe v. Wade and protect abortion access nationwide,” Pingree said. “The Senate must past this crucial legislation – even if that means abolishing the filibuster to do so. We cannot and will not go back to the days when women weren’t trusted to decide their own future.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.