5 Republicans Who Support Abortion Rights

October 9th 2015

Mackensie Graham

Because of the Republican Party's uncompromising stance against abortion and Republicans in Congress arguing that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, it's easy to forget that there are pro-choice Republicans. Despite being overpowered in volume in their party, here are five of them who have maintained pro-choice views:

1. Laura Bush, former First Lady

Laura Bush

Former First Lady Laura Bush publicly said in 2001 that she does not support overturning the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion. In 2010, she said that abortion should "remain legal because I think it's important for people for medical reasons and other reasons." Former President George W. Bush, Laura's husband, is decidedly pro-life.

2. Barbara Bush, former First Lady

Bush family matriarch and former First Lady Barbara Bush is another Bush woman on the pro-choice list. In 1992, just before the Republican Convention that re-nominated her husband for president, Mrs. Bush said that she believed abortion to be a personal choice. "The personal things should be left out of, in my opinion, out of platforms and conventions," she explained.

Like her daughter-in-law Laura, Barbara's husband, former President George H.W. Bush, disagrees and is pro-life. Interestingly, Mr. Bush was pro-choice until 1980 when he adopted the growing Republican consensus view against abortion.

3. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine)

Susan Collins

Sen. Susan Collins is one of two pro-choice Republicans in the Senate. She said in 2012 that her party's stance on abortion is too extreme. “It seems like we’ve been thrown back decades into debates most everyday people think were settled years ago," Collins told Newsweek. "This doesn’t mean we’re disrespectful to people who hold a different point of view, but [the Republican] platform seems designed to alienate a lot of moderate women. I don’t get it.”

4. Sen. Mark Kirk (Illinois)

Sen. Mark Kirk is the other pro-choice Republican in the Senate. Kirk was the only Republican to vote against the Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood in August. He was also one of eight Republicans, along with the aforementioned Sen. Collins, to vote alongside 42 Democrats to sufficiently block the Planned Parenthood defunding bill, preventing another government shutdown. Even though he made some foot-in-mouth comments about abortion earlier this year, experts expect Kirk to run once again as a pro-choice Republican in his reelection campaign next year.

5. Kathy Hawken, North Dakota state representative

Since 1997, the beginning of her tenure in the North Dakota legislature representing Fargo, Kathy Hawken has been an advocate for women’s reproductive rights and health. She has rallied behind Planned Parenthood, despite serving in a state that has enacted some of the harshest restrictions on abortion. "Over and over again, I, along with many other Republicans, have stood up to extreme groups that believe the government should make the decision over a woman’s health care," Hawken wrote in 2014. "This is why I support organizations like Planned Parenthood that do so much to prevent unplanned pregnancies through education and a helping hand."