Former Gov. Paul LePage said he would be so busy tackling problems such as the economy and health care if he gets elected to a third term this fall that he wouldn’t have the time or the political support to change the state’s abortion laws.

“In the next four years, it’s gonna be the economy, it’s gonna be fuel, it’s gonna be energy, it’s gonna be policing, it’s gonna be children and fixing our healthcare system,” LePage said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Windham. “I don’t have time for abortion. It’s that simple.”

“There’s just so much that needs to be done that to me is critical for all Mainers. Abortion affects few.”

LePage has said he opposes abortion and has appeared at anti-abortion rallies when in office, but noted that Maine’s 1993 abortion law remained intact during his two terms in office, including in 2011-12, the two years of his tenure when Republicans also controlled the Legislature.

But abortion access was protected in all states by the U.S. Constitution while LePage was in office. If he wins in November, there would be no Roe v. Wade there to prevent LePage and other abortion foes from overturning or even chipping away Maine’s abortion law, unlike in some other states.

LePage said he wouldn’t “initiate” any anti-abortion legislation or policy change if elected to a third term.


“I’ve been your governor eight years and you’ve never seen me go into that arena,” LePage said while he accepted an endorsement from the Maine Associated Builders and Contractors. “I’m more concerned about the fiscal and economic systems here in Maine. … As far as abortion, I’ve not gone there, won’t go there.”

LePage said it was highly unlikely an anti-abortion bill would ever make it to his desk for consideration. Most Democratic lawmakers support abortion. LePage said many Republican lawmakers do, too, even though the party platform enshrines “the sanctity of human life – from conception to natural death.”

The Maine Republican Party platform also supports the “nuclear family,” defined as the union of a man and woman, by encouraging the birth and adoption of children, as well as supporting faith-based family resources, including adoption and crisis pregnancy services, which typically discourage abortion access.

If an anti-abortion bill did make it to his desk, LePage said he’d have to read it before deciding what to do. He refused to speak in hypotheticals or pledge to veto a bill that would restrict abortion, which in Maine is allowed until the time the fetus is viable, around 22-24 weeks.

Other Republican-controlled states have banned abortions after 20, 15 or even six weeks, like in Texas.

But he might support restricting abortion earlier if medical science changes the definition of viability.


“I mean, I’m pro-life, and if that baby could live, if medical science could keep that baby alive and someone could prove that to me, I’d have to consider it,” LePage said. “But we’re not there yet, are we? Science isn’t there yet. I’m only going to have time for problems I can actually fix.”


While LePage distanced himself from any official position on new restrictions, he was quick to use inflammatory “baby killer” language that will appeal to conservative abortion foes within his own party even while explaining the political reality that makes it unlikely an anti-abortion bill would make it his desk if he is elected.

“The Democratic Party will kill babies all day long,” LePage said during an interview after the event. “As for Republicans, half the Republican Party wants them to go to term and half of them are pro-choice. Where’s the votes going to come from to change that? They’re not there.”

Both Democratic party leaders and abortion rights advocates object to the use of such inaccurate language, noting that Maine law does not allow for abortions in the final trimester of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is at risk. That’s long before the fetus becomes a baby, they note.

LePage insisted that abortion is a “non-issue” in the gubernatorial election but that Mills, who is an ardent defender of abortion rights, has no choice but to label him a threat to abortion access to distract voters from inflation and the economy.


But Mills and other Democratic leaders, as well as abortion rights advocates, are insisting that abortion itself is on the Maine ballot this fall. They cite LePage’s personal views, his refusal to pledge to protect Maine’s abortion law and the Republicans’ anti-abortion platform as proof abortion is in play, even here.

“Governor Mills and her Democratic colleagues in the Legislature may be the only thing keeping abortion safe and legal in our state,” Democratic Party Chairman Drew Gattine said Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “Paul LePage and other anti-abortion Republicans on the ballot this November present the greatest threat to abortion rights in recent Maine history.”

During his tenure, LePage cut funding for family planning and attended pro-life rallies, Gattine said.


Gattine noted that the Christian Civic League, which calls LePage an ally and has endorsed his campaign, wants to end all abortion in Maine. The chair of the Republican Governors Association, which is heavily funding LePage’s run, wants to ban abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

In the past, LePage has said he would cut state funding of abortions through MaineCare coverage, arguing that taxpayers should not have to fund a practice that many Mainers, including LePage, consider murder. LePage now says he wouldn’t do that.


Instead, he said he would add funding to the state Medicaid program to cover the medical costs of a low-income woman’s pregnancy. In theory, MaineCare covers all of that already, but in practice, adequate and timely medical treatment can be difficult to find through the program, he said.

That is why LePage would fund the opening of health clinics to help low-income women carry their pregnancies – wanted and unwanted – to term, he said. Abortion shouldn’t be a more affordable outcome for a pregnant woman than giving a baby up for adoption, he said.

“If they’re gonna try to kill little fetuses … we’ve gotta try to keep them alive,” LePage said.

Democrats note that about two weeks ago Mills announced the expansion of MaineCare coverage to provide postpartum care for about 2,000 new mothers every year from two months to a year, making Maine one of the first states to do so. Access to family planning will be included.

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