A proposal to amend the Maine Constitution to protect reproductive autonomy has been presented to the Maine Legislature this session. LD 780, “Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Protect Personal Reproductive Autonomy,” sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, is Maine’s response to the US Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. 215 (2022), rolling back over 50 years of reproductive rights.

Anne Carney Joe Phelan file/Kennebec Journal

In reversing the right of a woman and her health care provider to make decisions about reproductive and abortion care, the court stated that reproductive rights should be determined by states through state legislative processes. The court wrote, “Our decision returns the issue of abortion to those legislative bodies, and it allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office. Women are not without electoral or political power.”

Many states have, in light of on this decision, enacted laws that prohibit abortion and other types of reproductive health services, and impose severe fines and penalties on those who provide and receive this necessary care. Other states, like Maine, have acted to protect access to reproductive health care through legislative action, constitutional amendments, court decisions or a combination of these approaches.

To date, 11 states have explicitly, or through judicial interpretation, recognized a state constitution protection for reproductive health care. Since the Dobbs decision, six states have sent constitutional amendments to voters, allowing the people to decide whether these most personal decisions will be protected by state constitutions. In each case, the voters have chosen to include an amendment in their state constitution.

It’s important to recognize that in Maine and across our country, the issue of individuals’ rights to make decisions about their own health care is universal. The Dobbs decision suggests this is a concern only for women voters, but it is an issue for all voters to weigh in on, regardless of gender identity and regardless of how any one voter will ultimately mark their ballot. The conversation has been focused largely on abortion, but LD 780 would ensure that Mainers have access to their preferred form of birth control, that men can opt to have or refuse to have a vasectomy, and that each of us has the right to make choices about the care we receive from medical providers when it comes to our reproductive health.

I sincerely hope Maine voters will have an opportunity this year to make their voices heard on this most personal freedom, by voting on a proposed reproductive rights amendment in November. You may not get the chance. That thought should disappoint every voter and prompt you to ask, “why?”


To send a constitutional amendment to the Maine voters, a proposal must pass both the Maine Senate and the Maine House by a two-thirds vote. Mainers across the state will only be able to express their position on their reproductive health care if 24 senators and 101 representatives vote to place the issue on the ballot in November.

I believe Mainers deserve the right to speak for themselves, especially on an issue this personal. I will be voting in favor of giving every Maine voter the freedom to say they support, or do not support, protecting reproductive rights in the Maine Constitution. It is crucial that Mainers throughout our state have the opportunity to make their voices heard on this most personal freedom when they vote in November.

Maine usually tops the list of high voter participation states. We should be proud of our dedication to the democratic process and trust Maine voters to reach a decision that is right for our state.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which consists of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. She can be reached at 207-287-1515 or Anne.Carney@legislature.maine.gov.

Comments are not available on this story.