U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, at the Capitol in Washington on March 15. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A version of this article was originally published in The Daily Brief, our Maine politics newsletter. Sign up here for daily news and insight from politics editor Michael Shepherd.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was one of the few Republicans to criticize a Texas judge’s ruling last week to rescind federal approval for the abortion drug mifepristone.

The drug sits in limbo for now with the administration of President Joe Biden preparing an appeal and another federal court issuing a conflicting ruling preserving access to the drug in a number of states including Maine.

The backstory: The judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas, was a controversial appointee of former President Donald Trump. Collins was the only Republican senator to oppose his confirmation in 2019, citing his “alarming bias against LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.”

Collins is a rare pro-abortion rights Republican, though she was tied to Trump on the issue when she voted for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 while predicting that he would not overturn federal abortion rights. But Kavanaugh voted to do that in June when the high court issued its decision overturning Roe v. Wade, returning abortion policy to states.

Maine was largely shielded from the effects of that decision because of permissive laws around abortion and Democratic control of the State House. But the unprecedented limits on mifepristone considered by Kacsmaryk would reverberate here, since Maine is one of the rural states where most abortions are done with medication.

Key quote: “In 2019, I voted against Judge Kacsmaryk’s confirmation, and I disagree strongly with his decision in this case,” Collins said in a statement. “Mifepristone is an FDA-approved drug that has been on the market for more than two decades and extensively studied.”

Collins’ criticism of the decision followed harsher statements from top Democrats here, including Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and state party leaders.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...