Murkowski concerned with how court may rule in abortion case

Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with reporters inside the Division of Election office in Anchorage
Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with reporters after filing for reelection in Anchorage on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she’s concerned with the direction the U.S. Supreme Court could take on the issue of abortion.

Murkowski, a Republican, told reporters the court has sent signals in recent cases “that I think are causing concern for those of us who have said that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided.” That 1973 case legalized abortion.

The court heard arguments late last year in a case involving a Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. During arguments, members of the court’s conservative majority indicated they’d uphold Mississippi’s law. A ruling is expected later this year.

Under Roe and a case that reaffirmed it, states can regulate but not ban abortion up until the point of fetal viability.

Murkowski said she respects “a woman’s right to control her choice with reproductive health; that is not without limitation, however, and I have also made that clear. So we are all watching with great interest the direction that the court may take.”

Murkowski spoke with reporters after delivering a speech to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature. The speeches generally serve as an update on the work of the state’s congressional delegation and are traditionally given by Alaska’s two U.S. senators. Murkowski touched on a wide range of topics, including the federal infrastructure package that she said was one of the most consequential measures she’s worked on.

Murkowski faces reelection this year. Murkowski, a moderate, has said that she’s always been a registered Republican. But she’s at times been at odds with her party, including on issues like abortion and in her criticism of former President Donald Trump. State party leaders have endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who also has been endorsed by Trump.

Murkowski said Tuesday her commitment is “to the people, not to a party.”

Twelve candidates have made official with the state Division of Elections plans to run for the seat, including Murkowski and state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, a Democrat. Tshibaka hasn’t filed with the division yet; the deadline to do so for the August primary is June 1.

In this year’s primary, the top four vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election. Ranked choice voting will be used in the general election. This is the result of a voter initiative passed in 2020.

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