WASHINGTON — Through my years serving the people of Maine at the state and federal level, I’ve spoken to a lot of women, listened to their concerns and their stories and watched as a small but vocal political minority has attempted to wage an all-out attack on women’s rights – from their right to earn a fair paycheck to their right to make their own health care decisions.

I want to make it clear: If elected governor, I will veto any attempt to weaken Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act, which mirrors Roe v. Wade, and I will oppose any attempt to restrict access to the full range of health care services – including contraception, maternity and newborn care, and safe abortion services – provided under the Affordable Care Act.

That is why I have supported public funding for family planning services and fought to ensure that emergency contraception is readily available to women on military bases. Decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor.

As with many Americans, my views on abortion have evolved over the years.

As a Franco-American Catholic, I personally have struggled, like many others, with this issue since I was first elected to office at the age of 24. In the past, I have taken votes that I would not take today. But over the years my views have changed based on my experiences and on the personal conversations I’ve had with people in Maine and in Washington.

Thanks to the countless women who have shared their stories and concerns with me while I’ve been in office, I’m proud to say I now have a 100 percent rating from NARAL – the nation’s leading organization for women’s reproductive rights – as well as a 92 percent rating with Planned Parenthood.

There are some people who’ve tried to use this issue as a wedge to stir up confusion about my current position since I entered the race for governor. They have chosen to cherry-pick a handful of votes during my 32 years in public service rather than tell you how I have come to my current position and what I would actually do as governor. Simply put, women don’t turn to politicians for advice about birth control or cancer screenings, and I have ultimately come to the belief that politicians should not be involved in a woman’s medical decisions about her pregnancy.

I believe that supporting women’s rights means protecting their access to health care. But it also means improving economic opportunity for women and ensuring that no woman will have to choose between earning her paycheck or taking care of her family.

Right now, across this country, women earn 76 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. That makes a big difference in the lives of many women and children. It could mean the difference between someone’s children having shoes and clothes that fit. It could mean fewer groceries, a colder home in the winter because of high heating costs or less time spent helping kids with homework.

That’s why I was an early and strong supporter of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, ensuring pay equity for women, and why I will continue to fight for pay equity as governor of Maine.

It’s also why I support increasing access to good-paying jobs, affordable adult education and job training programs, increasing the minimum wage, earned paid sick days so moms – and dads – can stay home with their sick children without suffering financial consequences, and why I have consistently supported quality, affordable access to health care for all families.

There’s no doubt, these are all very important issues that I and my opponents will be talking a lot about throughout the next 13 months.

But I want to make it clear: If elected governor, I will not tolerate attacks on women’s rights. I will fight to protect women’s access to health care and work to improve economic opportunity for women.

I welcome voters who are concerned about my stance on any of these issues to contact me and my campaign. I’m eager to talk to more Mainers and get feedback about what we can do in Maine to better support women, working parents and families.

– Special to the Press Herald

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.