Veteran to Sen. Collins on abortion rights: “I’m here asking you to be our hero.”

Sharing a haunting story about how the lives of women can be ruined when they’re denied their reproductive freedom, Maine activist and military veteran Tina Marie Davidson met with Senator Susan Collins in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday and urged her to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Davidson, who recently confronted Collins about Kavanaugh’s stance on Roe v. Wade following the senator’s appearance at Q97.9’s annual Lobster Bake, was joined by two other Mainers, Genevieve Morgan and Kevin Rocray, all members of Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The first to speak, Davidson recalled how growing up her mother was a “strong believer in reproductive choice” and taught her that equality for women depended on their right to choose.

“Young girls having an unplanned child [are] exposed to health risks that come with pregnancy, but even more, their education is commonly cut short,” she said. “This impacts their economic security, [and can lead to] impacts that can last for years, decades, and even generations.”

Davidson then told Collins about when she joined the military as a young woman in order to escape poverty, further her education, and serve her country. She and a cohort of primarily women of color were assigned to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for their training where they lived in secluded World War II-era barracks and, as they expected, had drill sergeants who were physically and emotionally trying.

What the women didn’t expect, however, was that the drill sergeants would coerce and force many of them to engage in sexual activities.

“Most of the girls chose to remain silent, because they knew their situation would be worse if they spoke up,” Davidson said of her abused peers. “There was nobody to talk to. They were terrified.”

The women who became pregnant were sent home, some to states where safe abortions were not possible. The absence of choice, Davidson continued, had a “devastating effect” on their lives.

“I’m here asking you to be our hero,” she said to Collins, adding that the senator should not “leave a single stone unturned” in her examination of Kavanaugh, because women’s lives depend on it.

After Morgan and Rocray brought up their concerns, ranging from what Kavanaugh will do to the Affordable Care Act to whether or not he will respect legal precedent, Collins told the delegation that she and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski were the only two Republicans who had not yet met with Kavanaugh, explaining that she has not finished reviewing his 12-year record, including his 304 decisions as a circuit judge.

Collins elaborated on statements she made earlier last week, when she sided with Republican colleagues in their decision to exclude thousands of records from Kavanaugh’s time at the White House under President George W. Bush from consideration, saying that she only disagreed with the Democrats’ request for e-mails that were not written by Kavanaugh.

“I want to be ready to ask questions on many of the issues that you have raised,” Collins said, adding that she conducted the same extensive review of President Barack Obama’s nominees and, despite the fact their beliefs differed from her own, voted to confirm them.

“A judge’s personal views are not what I base my decision on,” she said. “My decision is [based on]: Can you put aside your personal views and apply the law to the facts of the case?”

Watch the meeting below:

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