Gov. Janet Mills has vowed to defend abortion rights as the Supreme Court appears poised to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Politico published Monday evening a nearly 100-page draft decision, in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito that would upend the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade. The court has verified the authenticity of the document while underscoring that it is not a final decision.
The leak was unparalleled in the high court’s modern history, with some observers comparing it to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. government’s secret history of the Vietnam War.
READ MORE SUPREME COURT NEWS
Mills, a Democrat, said late Monday night that the Supreme Court’s apparent decision casts a cloud of uncertainty over “countless women across Maine and America who are worried right now” about access to abortion services.
“Well, I want to be very clear: unlike an apparent majority of the Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable. And I pledge that as long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care in the face of every and any threat to it — whether from politicians in Augusta or Supreme Court Justices in Washington,” Mills said.
Since becoming governor, Mills has expanded abortion rights in the state, signing into law bills to require private and public health insurers to cover abortion procedures, allow physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions and create buffer zones around abortion clinics to prevent harassment.
At least 26 states are poised to ban or restrict access to abortion if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Monday night’s news likely means that the fight over abortion rights will become a major issue in the upcoming. midterm elections.
Already in Maine, Republicans have said they will target certain measures approved by Mills, especially if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade. Former Gov. Paul LePage, the anti-abortion Republican running to oust Mills in 2022, issued a statement on Tuesday that did not address actions he would take on the issue but repeated his past opposition to taxpayer funding for abortions in most cases.
Maine Democratic Party Chair Drew Gattine made those stakes clear Tuesday morning, declaring that Democratic control of the Legislature and Blaine House is the only thing keeping abortion “safe and legal” in the state.
“Paul LePage and other anti-abortion Republicans on the ballot this November present the greatest threat to abortion rights in recent Maine history. We must re-elect Governor 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,” he said.
Nicole Clegg, senior vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, echoed Gattine on Tuesday, saying anti-abortion politicians could restrict or even ban abortion in Maine.
“At Planned Parenthood, we know that banning abortion does not take away people’s need to access abortion care. Patients who need to access abortion should not face the shame and overwhelming hurdles that will come from this decision. And we will do everything we can to help those patients get abortion care safely,“ Clegg said.
Meagan Sway, policy director for the Maine ACLU, called the leaked draft a “devastating blow” to constitutional freedoms.
“If the Supreme Court were to take away this right, it would be up to states to decide whether to protect abortion care and access, or to ban it. Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a right. We will never stop defending it in Maine,” Sway said Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who voted to confirm conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the high court, said Tuesday morning that the draft decision, if true, is “inconsistent” with what the two told her as nominees. Both had assured her they respected precedent and wouldn’t let their personal views inform court decisions.
Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, a Democrat, blasted the Republican in a Tuesday morning tweet, saying that “torching #RoeVWade will be her legacy.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District called the leaked decision “devastating.”
“But it is only a *draft* opinion and ABORTION REMAINS LEGAL in this country. We cannot go back to criminalizing women’s health care,” she said in a tweet.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, called the draft decision’s overturning of the Roe precedent a “dangerous” and “seismic” shift.
“A potential ruling that ends abortion protections would be appalling, but also firmly aligned with the clear long-term goals of conservative legal leaders; in fact, former President Trump explicitly stated he would only nominate justices who would ‘automatically’ overturn Roe. While we do not yet know the final ruling, Congress must be prepared to take legislative action to enshrine Roe into law,” King said Tuesday.