Janet Mills speaking with a black background around her
Gov. Janet Mills speaks at the return of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce's annual award ceremony at the Maine Savings Amphitheater in Bangor, June 21, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus

Gov. Janet Mills vowed to protect abortion rights in Maine after the U.S. Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and leaving the question of abortion up to the states.

The majority decision from five justices in a case involving a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi will lead abortion to be outlawed in roughly half of U.S. states. The right to an abortion has been codified in Maine law since 1994, although conservatives could look to change that if they take back control of state government.

A spokesperson for Mills’ Republican opponent, former Gov. Paul LePage, referred questions to a statement LePage released when a draft decision in the case was leaked last month. The statement declined to specify what legislation LePage, who attended anti-abortion rights rallies while serving as governor, would support, but said “late term abortions are extremely disturbing to most Maine people.” Maine already bans abortions after viability unless it is necessary for the life or health of the mother.

Other Republicans have suggested they would start by looking to reel back the expansion of abortion rights in Maine championed by Mills, who signed laws allowing Medicaid to cover the procedure and allowing more mid-level health care practitioners to perform it. Democrats could look to capitalize on that distinction ahead of the 2022 midterms, as most Mainers favor legal abortion.

In a statement released shortly after the Supreme Court decision dropped on Friday, Mills said the decision would not stop abortion but instead make the procedure “less safe” and “jeopardize the lives of women across the nation.”

“In Maine, I will defend the right to reproductive health care with everything I have, and 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,” she said.

Legislative leaders echoed that sentiment. Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said a statement that abortion was “a deeply personal decision that should not be made by politicians or justices,” adding that Senate Democrats would ensure aborton rights are protected in Maine.

Other Democratic politicians similarly expressed outrage at the decision on Friday. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree characterized the ruling as “catastrophic” in a statement, saying that the “shamefully partisan” court had “decided against the more than 70 percent of Americans who want Roe v. Wade upheld.”