Independent Tiffany Bond was the sole candidate in the 2nd Congressional District race to appear at a debate Monday evening. Credit: Rebbeca Conley / Maine Public

Independent congressional candidate Tiffany Bond said the government should have no say in personal health care decisions, whether about cancer treatment or terminating a pregnancy.

Speaking during a half-hour candidate forum on Monday night, Bond also criticized her two opponents in the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden and former Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin, for declining to participate in what was supposed to be a live debate.

Although considered a long shot to win the 2nd District race, Bond is likely to influence the outcome, as she did in the 2018 race, because Maine voters will use the ranked-choice process when casting ballots in the three-person race.

“Both gentlemen have had a shot at it,” Bond said of her opponents. “I don’t believe either one does a particularly good job at it.”

During the event, Bond said she supports legislation to make abortion legal at the federal level in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

“By pulling back Roe, we didn’t just change abortion coverage,” Bond said. “We changed our privacy rights generally. And we really blurred that line of where the government and people are. It used to be that our private lives were private, and it just wasn’t any of their business and they could keep their nose out. And I just don’t think a lot of folks realize just how sweeping that is.”

Golden also strongly supports abortion rights and denounced the Supreme Court’s June ruling as “a grave mistake.” The Democrat has said he would support codifying legal protections for abortion in federal law.

Poliquin, meanwhile, is anti-abortion and has signaled his support in the past for a federal ban on the procedure. But since the Supreme Court decision, Poliquin has said the issue of access to abortion should be decided at the state level. Maine currently has a state law guaranteeing women the right to terminate a pregnancy until fetal viability.

A family attorney, Bond is once again running a low-budget campaign for the congressional seat as she encourages supporters to donate money to charities or spend it with local businesses. She currently lives in Portland, which is part of Maine’s 1st Congressional District, but said that the majority of her legal work is in the 2nd District and that her family is currently building a home in Sandy River Plantation in Franklin County. The law does not require congressional candidates to live in the district they seek to represent.

Bond finished third in the four-person race for the 2nd District in 2018 with 6 percent of the vote. But her supporters helped to lift Golden beyond Poliquin, who was then the incumbent, during the ranked-choice voting retabulation.

Monday’s event was the first of three live forums co-hosted by Maine Public and the Portland Press Herald.

The three candidates for governor — incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage and independent Sam Hunkler — will debate for 90 minutes at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4. The two candidates running for the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and Republican challenger Ed Thelander, are slated to debate each other at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. All of the candidate forums are being aired live on television and radio as well as streamed online.

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.