Spurred by the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal this week to block a Texas anti-abortion law, the issue is suddenly hot again in Maine.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, said Thursday on social media that “in recent years, we’ve heard of threats to Roe v. Wade during confirmation battles. Last night, those threats became reality; the court’s majority has just shown it doesn’t see Roe v. Wade as being the final word.”

Maine’s senior senator, Republican Susan Collins, called the Texas law “extreme and harmful.”

The controversial decision to allow an anti-abortion law to take effect in Texas has activists on both sides of the issue scrambling to figure out the fallout of the 5-4 ruling by the nation’s highest court to let the law stand.

The Texas law — denounced by Maine Family Planning as “a heinous new low for anti-abortion extremists” — is likely to put abortion on the front burner in at least two major political races next year: Gov. Janet Mills’ reelection bid and the U.S. House race in Maine’s 2nd District.

The gubernatorial race in the Pine Tree State will likely feature the Democratic governor, a staunch supporter of abortion rights, trying to fend off a challenge from Republican ex-Gov. Paul LePage, who opposes abortion rights.


Mills issued a statement Thursday that called the court’s decision not “to prevent this dangerous law from taking effect is a dog whistle to extremists that they can and should push forward their anti-choice agenda in state houses across the country.”

“Here in Maine, you can be damn sure that as long as I am governor, I will stand strong to protect the rights of women and that I will fight every and any threat to undermine, roll back, or outright eliminate access to reproductive health care services,” she said.

Despite Collins’ support for abortion rights, the Maine Republican Party’s chair, Demi Kouzounas, said in a fundraising email late Thursday that “the Maine GOP is fighting to protect the lives of the unborn, but we can not do it alone. We NEED your help. If you are pro-life, DONATE today to recruit, train, and elect candidates who will fight for the unborn and stand up to Governor Mills her friends pro-abortion stance.”

The pro-choice King said that the case the court opted not to consider “shouldn’t have been a tough call” for justices if they believe in the 1973 Roe decision that established a federal right for women to seek abortions in most circumstances.

King called the Texas statute “blatantly unconstitutional and the equivalent of a legal shell game, cynically crafted to achieve its end goal. It’s so transparent — yet, somehow, five justices went along with this unprecedented approach.”

He expressed shock that a majority of justices “decided to allow a radical Texas law that all but bans abortion to stand.”


“As a result, millions of Texas women won’t be free to make vital health care decisions with their doctor’s advice,” he said.

State House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, a Biddeford Democrat, called the court’s decision “absolutely horrible.”

Collins said in a prepared statement that the Supreme Court “recognized that there are ‘serious questions’ regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law, and it emphasized that its recent ruling does not address those questions” then added she opposed its decision to let the law remain in effect while the constitutional and procedural issues are litigated.

Three years ago, when she cast a crucial vote to appoint Brett Kavanaugh to a vacant court seat, Collins dismissed concerns he would seek to overturn Roe.

In a dramatic speech on the Senate floor that helped tip the balance in favor of Kavanaugh, Collins said he had told her that “a long-established precedent is not something to be trimmed, narrowed, discarded, or overlooked” and that “honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly. “

“When I asked him would it be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed” a case had been wrongly decided, Collins said in that speech, he answered with an emphatic “no.”


Kavanaugh was among the five justices who refused to consider the Texas statute that bars abortions after about six weeks, when a heartbeat can be detected, so early that many women have no idea they are pregnant before they will have run out of time to obtain a legal abortion.

George Takei, a Star Trek actor who has become a major progressive voice on social media, was among those who called her out in the wake of the ruling.

“She sold women out, and Maine voters should never forget that,” he said on Twitter.

Collins pointed out, though, that she has “cast votes on seven of the nine justices on the Supreme Court.  Of those I’ve voted to confirm, three voted with the majority and three voted with the minority.  The one I voted against voted with the majority.”

Her vote against the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett last fall was, she said at the time, because of its timing. She said she reached no conclusions about the substance of Barrett’s positions.

In Roe and other abortion-related cases, the justices have barred states from banning abortion prior to the point where a fetus could live outside the womb, generally considered to be no earlier than 22 weeks.


Betsy Sweet, a former Democratic gubernatorial contender, called the law “Handmaid’s Tale in real life.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a pro-choice 1st District Democrat in Maine, said on Twitter the Texas ban “violates the rights of millions and sets a dangerous example for the future.

In the hotly contested 2nd District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a two-term incumbent from Lewiston, supports the right of women to choose for themselves whether to have an abortion while his leading opponent, Republican Bruce Poliquin, is a critic of abortion rights.

Both King and Pingree are co-sponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a measure that aims to protect access to abortion nationwide. It is likely to come up for a vote in the House this fall, but stands no chance in the Senate. Golden sponsored it during his first term but has not signed on as a co-sponsor of the current legislation.

Maine is one of nine states that have specifically protected the right to abortion under state law.

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