People are sending a warning to a senator whose stance on protecting abortion rights isn’t strong enough for them.
On Wednesday, after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, Republican Senator Susan Collins said she views Roe v. Wade — the ruling that ensures nation-wide abortion access — as “settled law.”
“It’s clearly precedent,” she said on Wednesday when asked about her stance on protecting abortion laws. “I always look for judges who respect precedent.”
But on Thursday, her commitment to upholding Roe v. Wade seemed shaky. Her spokeswoman Annie Clark told the Portland Press Herald that Collins “always looks at their judicial temperament” and “respect for precedent” when evaluating judges, and then clarified that the senator “does not apply ideological litmus tests” to nominees.
Many viewed this as Clark implying that even though Collins supports “precedent,” she wouldn’t outright oppose nominees who were vocally against access to abortions.
That wasn’t a strong enough stance for some Twitter users, who rallied together to mail clothes hangers to Collins’ offices in Maine and Washington, D.C. as a dark reminder of the gruesome ways women sometimes dealt with unwanted pregnancies before abortion was legal.
The trend seems to have started with author and podcaster June Casagrande, who responded to a tweet condemning Collins’ statement with a photo of a hanger. Another Twitter user commented, “Shower these on [Collins’] doorstep.”
“It’s already begun,” Casagrande responded, sharing a screenshot of an Amazon order for wire hangers shipped to the senator’s D.C. office.
Others jumped in on the #HangersForCollins trend to make a statement.
One account suggested sending blood-red hangers for an especially severe message.
202 Harlow Street, Room 20100
Bangor, ME 04401
☎️ (207) 945-0417 pic.twitter.com/UsJwgWyozz
— OceanSolitudeMaine (@OceanSolitudeME) June 29, 2018
Even Canadians, in a show of neighborly support, wanted to help out. As Casagrande pointed out, their monetary contributions to pro-choice organizations could make a difference.
It makes me so grateful to see people in Canada caring about Americans in these perilous times! I’m not really set up to create that kind of effort. But I think there’s no better solution than what you (and I) are already doing: contributing to pro-choice orgs.
— June Casagrande (@JuneCasagrande) June 29, 2018
Since news broke of Kennedy’s retirement, people in the U.S. have worried over whether pro-choice rights will remain protected, should President Donald Trump nominate a candidate that wants to overturn the ruling. Kennedy co-authored the opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a landmark 1992 case that guaranteed a continued right to abortion for women.
Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who are both Republicans, are potential swing votes on Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Together, they can reject a nominee who might vote in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. It remains to be seen whether #HangersForCollins will sway their opinion.