Maine Democrats quickly vowed to ward off any attempts to adopt restrictions on abortions Friday, and Gov. Janet Mills said she would veto any efforts to put up roadblocks to women’s access to the procedure.

State Republican leaders, on the other hand, trod carefully around the issue, expressing support for the rights of states to set limits but indicating they have no immediate plans to push for restrictions here.

The Supreme Court’s decision Friday to eliminate the nationwide constitutional right to abortions will not immediately change access to the procedure in Maine, but it is sure to shape the political debate heading into the state’s general election in November, when voters will choose a governor and all the members of the Legislature.

It was clear Friday that while Democrats hope to mobilize voters concerned about abortion rights, Republicans leaders don’t believe Maine voters are likely to support efforts to restrict access.

“Mainers have weighed in time and time again” on the issue and repeatedly upheld access to abortions, Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Dr. Demi Kouzounas said in a written statement.

“It appears this ruling will have little impact in Maine,” Kouzounas said. She went on to say the party will focus on winning in November to “solve the immediate problems at hand affecting all us,” listing inflation and high gas and grocery costs.


In Maine, the right to an abortion up until a fetus is considered viable outside the womb – generally at 22 to 24 weeks – is codified in a state law that was signed by Republican Gov. John McKernan in 1993, exactly 20 years after Roe v. Wade.

Maine and its New England neighbors are among 20 states considered unlikely to adopt restrictions on abortions in the wake of Friday’s ruling, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Thirteen states have “trigger bans” in place – legislation that was adopted that will automatically outlaw the procedure, generally within 30 days of a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe. Another seven states are expected act soon to ban or restrict abortion, the Post said, with the rest uncertain.

The ruling is seen as potentially energizing Democrats nationwide ahead of the midterm elections. And Maine Democrats quickly sought to rally their voters Friday.

“Now that the Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe v. Wade and millions of women across the country are about to lose their freedom to have an abortion, one thing is clear: the future of abortion in Maine is on the ballot this November,” said Drew Gattine, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party. “We must re-elect Gov. Mills and our Democratic majorities this November in order to protect the rights, safety and future of not just Maine women but all Maine people.”


The Maine Republican party adopted a statewide platform in April that firmly opposes abortion. And, on Friday, several Maine Republicans expressed support for the ruling and the rights of individual states to decide on restrictions. But they stopped short of calling for new restrictions here.


Ed Thelander, the Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, downplayed the Supreme Court’s action by saying it occasionally overturns its prior decisions. Friday’s ruling, he said, “merely corrects a prior decision that was, in the view of many, flawed legal reasoning.”

He went on to call for “compassion, trust and support” for those considering whether to get an abortion, pointing out that the decision “puts regulation of abortion back in the hands of state legislatures, as the founders intended.”

Thelander said he “respects the sanctity of life,” but didn’t say if he would support or oppose any efforts in Maine to roll back access to abortions.

Pingree called the ruling “catastrophic” and even spoke briefly at a protest Friday in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.

She blamed “Republican extremists” who led “a decades-long effort” to put anti-choice justices on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe.

“Six radical justices, appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, have destroyed nearly 50 years of established legal precedent upon which tens of millions of Americans have relied,” Pingree said.



The decision also could play a role in this year’s gubernatorial election. Both major party candidates on Friday reiterated their past positions on abortion.

Former Gov. Paul LePage, who is seeking a non-consecutive third term as governor, released the same vague statement as he did when a draft version of the opinion striking down Roe was leaked last month. A spokesman declined to say whether LePage wants to change the state law, or how, if he wins in November.

LePage said he opposes taxpayer funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is in danger. He said Maine’s state law already prohibits abortion after viability and it should keep pace with modern, medical technology, but didn’t say when he thought viability occurred.

“As the child of a severely dysfunctional family, with domestic abuse that left me homeless, I know my mother faced difficult decisions and I am glad she chose life,” LePage said. “As governor I have a proven history of supporting life, including helping our most vulnerable women and children facing domestic abuse to our vulnerable senior citizens.”

Mills on Friday called the Supreme Court ruling an assault on women’s rights and on reproductive freedom that will do nothing to actually stop abortions across the country. She said it would only make the abortions that do take place less safe and vowed to protect abortion rights in Maine.


“In Maine, I will defend the right to reproductive health care with everything I have,” Mills said. “I pledge to the people of Maine that, so long as I am governor, my veto pen will stand in the way of any effort to undermine, rollback or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”


Maine’s law on abortion has remained virtually unchanged since its passage. Abortion foes have tried, but failed, to enact waiting periods, limit state and federal funding to agencies that provide abortions, require parental consent for minors to receive abortions, and add penalties for crimes against unborn children.

Four anti-abortion bills were proposed in 2011 and 2012, when LePage was governor and Republicans controlled the Legislature. Those bills would have added a 24-hour waiting period, consent laws for minors and added crimes against unborn children, but none passed.

In her four years as governor, Mills has signed bills from a Democratic-controlled Legislature to widen access to abortion by allowing MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover abortions and allowing licensed physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions.

Staff Writer Megan Gray contributed to the story.

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