The proposal by Gov. Mills to expand access to abortion later in pregnancy in Maine is often branded by opponents as “extreme.”

Other steps the governor may seek to take – a decision to stockpile abortion medication, for example, or to strengthen legal protections for abortion providers across the state – will be regarded similarly by those opponents.

One would think that even a cursory look around at the messy battles being fought throughout the U.S. right now would correct those interpretations.

None of the proposals in this spirit are extreme.

The Maine legislators who signed on as co-sponsors to Mills’ bill this week – 95 in total, between the House and the Senate – seem to have a clear understanding of the following statistics, reported yesterday in this newspaper:

“The number of people seeking abortions after the first trimester is small. In 2021, the most recent year data is available, 94% of the 1,905 abortions conducted in Maine were done within the first trimester of pregnancy, or up to 14 weeks. The remaining 107 occurred before 20 weeks.”


The opposition to Mills’ proposal seems to completely disregard these numbers, and almost any other context.

The governor’s proposal – which will be extremely narrow in effect, as outlined above – is still the subject of extreme resistance in certain quarters. The regulatory landscape it seeks to secure is disparaged as encouraging of a wayward, unprincipled world.

Don’t convert Maine into “Abortionland,” opponents say. This is almost as misleading as another term often wielded: “abortion on demand.”

Indeed, the opponents of moves to protect abortion access seem to disregard an even more obvious fact again: that abortions will continue to be carried out. What is being fought over around the U.S. right now isn’t whether or not abortion will continue – the outcome of the fighting will only dictate how it will happen, where it will happen, when it will happen and how much it costs to make it happen.

The recent medication abortion ruling in Texas, in a case brought by a group of anti-abortion organizations and doctors, is the clearest indicator yet of where the battle is going. The outcome of that case has resulted in Gov. Mills simultaneously weighing up whether Maine should stockpile the drug in question, mifepristone, something other Democratic states have already started doing.

In light of how quickly and erratically this battle of court rulings has been moving, Maine should stockpile the drug. Acting with anything less than an abundance of caution risks leaving Mainers without access to a form of abortion that is more relied on here than it is in other states. 


This editorial board has previously been clear about our feelings on the proposal to lift time limits on abortion access at the state level, but it bears repeating this week: In taking into account both the health of the mother and the harrowing reality of fatal fetal abnormality, the proposal by Gov. Mills is sensible, fair and humane.

As we said separately in February, while state law alone is unlikely to be enough to contend with some of the broadsides against safe and legal abortion, state law matters.

Is it frustrating to have to attempt to respond to judicial efforts with legislative efforts? It is. The question of abortion access should fall to lawmakers, not to judges. But we’ve been here before.

“Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s decisions … prompted debate and a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels to limit their effect,” reads a report of the Congressional Research Service, going back to the 1970s, entitled “Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response.”

The issue is freshly unsettled and the court decisions are increasingly at odds with what most Americans want. A variety of robust governmental actions is in order.

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