Murkowski votes against bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, but says she could support a ban

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of 46 senators and just two Republicans to block a proposed federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks on Monday, but said she could support such a ban if “there are sufficient protections and exceptions.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act failed to advance in the Senate on a 51-46 vote, which fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle. Three Democrats from conservative states voted in favor of the measure.

After the vote, Murkowski took to Twitter to publish a statement to say she could support such a ban, but not without additional protections.

“I oppose late-term abortion. A 20-week ban on elective abortion could be something I support, if there are sufficient protections and exceptions,” she said in a statement. “I firmly believe that there should be clear and workable exceptions, particularly for victims of rape and incest and in cases where the life or physical health of the mother is threatened.”

The problem with Senate Bill 2311 was it “not contain sufficient protections for women and imposes unreasonable and unrealistic requirements in certain instances,” she said.

“For example, requiring a teenage girl who was raped by her father to report to law enforcement or a government agency prior to obtaining an abortion is simply not workable,” she said. “While I do not support this particular bill because of the narrow scope of limitations, I could support legislation that provides more protections for women in situations beyond their control.”

Murkowski was joined by Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, in voting against the measure. The two have represented the moderate edge of the Republican party in the Senate and also opposed GOP efforts to haphazardly undo the Affordable Care Act.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan voted in favor of the measure.

Why it matters

Monday’s vote appears to be a quiet return of abortion politics to the national stage amid ongoing furor over immigration reform. Anti-abortion legislation doesn’t likely don’t stand a chance at clearing the 60-vote mark in the Senate under the current rules and political makeup, but it’s certainly an issue that Republicans hope to capitalize on during the 2018 midterms.

Similar legislation to Senate bill has been introduced in the Alaska Legislature by Sen. Cathy Giessel and Rep. Cathy Tilton. The legislation would also institute a blanket ban on late-term abortions, making the procedure only legal in certain cases and in those case the physician would be required to do everything possible to deliver the fetus so it could be put up as adoption as a child (which Planned Parenthood Northwest pointed out is essentially forcing women to give birth).

Groups like Planned Parenthood would also point out that abortions performed in the later stages of a pregnancy are exceedingly rare and almost exclusively used in complex cases like
“severe fetal anomalies or serious risk to the woman’s health–the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.”

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