At Senate hearing, Murkowski reaffirms support for abortion rights

a woman in the u.s. capitol
Sen. Lisa Murkowski at the U.S. Capitol in October. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski reiterated her support for abortion rights at a Senate hearing Tuesday, with some caveats.

“I think the choice to have an abortion should ultimately be in the hands of the woman, of the individual, not the government,” she said. “But I also believe that it’s reasonable not to require those who are firmly opposed to abortion to support it with their tax dollars, and that providers who do not wish to be involved in abortion should not be forced to do so.”

The occasion was a session of the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee. Democratic leaders aimed to show how the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, overturning the right to abortion, has harmed women. They talked about child rape victims who had to travel to other states because their own had banned the procedure. They also spoke of women denied healthcare after a miscarriage.

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was one of the Republicans who argued that abortion was wrong.

“This is a life,” he said, gesturing toward to a posterboard he put up with images of developing fetuses. “Can anyone say that that child is not a life? How could you not?”

Murkowski is a rare Republican senator who supports abortion rights, and her views are often nuanced. She votes against abortion bills that she says go too far. Planned Parenthood Action Fund rates her at 62% on its abortion-rights scorecard. On the other side, Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America gives her an F.

Nationally, Democrats are drawing attention to their support for abortion rights, hoping that it will motivate voters to the polls and help re-elect President Joe Biden.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her atlruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Lizhere.

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