Alaska’s Murkowski a no-show at Senate vote on abortion bill

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
The stage was set in the U.S. Senate Monday for a divisive vote related to late-term abortion, and one open question was how Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski would vote. She can be hard to predict on abortion legislation.

The bill the Senate considered would require doctors to provide medical care to an infant that is accidentally born alive when an abortion goes wrong.

Most Republicans, including Sen. Dan Sullivan, co-sponsored the legislation. Supporters of the bill say to neglect a live baby would be infanticide.

Most Democrats voted against advancing the bill. Opponents say infanticide is already illegal and claim the real goal of the bill is to intimidate doctors and burden their patients.

Sen. Murkowski often crosses the aisle to vote in favor of abortion rights. But Monday she didn’t vote at all. Her spokeswoman said she had a prior commitment in Alaska and did not make it back to the Capitol in time.

(She also missed a vote on a late-term abortion ban in 2015, due to a prior commitment. She said afterward that she would not have supported it anyway.)

Murkowski’s position on abortion is nuanced. She generally supports abortion rights, with limitations. And she has said that she could vote for a late-term abortion ban, as long as it includes adequate exceptions.

The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection” bill needed 60 votes to advance. It got only 53.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Ignoring Indigenous women’s traditional knowledge hurts Arctic science, G7 summit hears, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s foreign minister’s presence at anti-abortion event in Canada criticized by Chancellor of Justice, Yle News

Sweden: Free birth control halves number of abortions carried out in northern Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska wouldn’t be affected by U.S. Supreme Court’s restriction of abortion rights, says anti-abortion lawyer, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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