Steve Daines made the remarks on the floor of the US Senate
“Why do we have laws in place that protect the eggs of a sea turtle or the eggs of eagles?” Mr Daines said. “Because when you destroy an egg, you’re killing a pre-born baby sea turtle or a pre-born baby eagle. Yet when it comes to a pre-born human baby rather than a sea turtle, that baby will be stripped of all protections in all 50 states under the Democrats’ bill we will be voting on tomorrow.”
The rhetorical gambit to compare people who have babies to animals comes in advance of Wednesday’s scheduled vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act — a bill that would protect abortion rights across the country in advance of the US Supreme Court’s expected ruling reversing Roe v Wade next month.
The bill, which requires 60 votes to pass, is virtually certain to fail. But Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, has pressed forward with a vote anyway in an effort to force every member of the body to take a vote on an issue that could have significant political salience with the midterms approaching.
Debate on the bill has been underway since Monday, with Mr Daines making headlines for his extended riff on the criminal penalties people facing for stealing or destroying sea turtle eggs. Backlash from pro-abortion rights politicians and members of the public was swift.
Other senators have also faced backlash for their views. Abortion rights activists occupied the Harrisburg office of anti-abortion Democratic senator Bob Casey on Tuesday; shortly thereafter, Mr Casey announced that he would support the bill.
Some public protest has been tamer. But when abortion rights activists chalked a simple message outside of Maine senator Susan Collins’ home in Bangor, Ms Collins called the police. The police said that the message, which read “Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA —–> vote yes, clean up your mess,” was not threatening and did not constitute a crime.
Ms Collins, considered a moderate Republican, was a decisive vote in favour of confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the bench in 2018 but expressed surprise when it was reported that he and four other members of the Supreme Court were supporting a reversal of Roe v Wade. Protesters have also demonstrated peacefully outside Mr Kavanaugh’s home in recent days.
Republicans, meanwhile, have signalled that they are looking at passing a law to ban abortion nationally should they retake power in Washington in the coming years.