Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an ironic remark Tuesday in the abortion rights debate that has surfaced amid Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing, as some Democrats fear she is likely to challenge the Roe v. Wade decision.
“Life is valuable. That is not a religious statement,” Lee said, appearing to defend Barrett’s conservative values, adding: “a purpose of government is to protect life.”
The comments ca,e after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had pressed Barrett on whether or not she believed the landmark Roe v. Wade case was correctly decided.
Lee was one of three GOP senators who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks, yet he was not wearing a mask during Tuesday’s hearing. His refusal to wear a mask undercuts the wisdom of public health experts who have encouraged mask-wearing to protect lives, citing evidence that the practice helps curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus which has now killed roughly 215,000 people in the United States.
Amid questions about the safety of his presence in person at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing for Barrett, Lee said on Monday that an attending physician for Congress had cleared him as “no longer contagious.”
Lee had announced a positive test for coronavirus just 10 days prior to the first day of the hearing on Monday after attending a ceremony nominating the Trump Supreme Court pick at the White House on Sept. 26. The event, where few wore masks and several attendees later tested positive for the virus, has since been labeled a “super-spreader event” by public health experts.