Paul LePage struggles to answer abortion questions in debate with Maine Gov. Janet Mills

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During his two terms as governor of Maine, Republican Paul LePage attended anti-abortion rallies, argued that “we should not have abortions” and said in 2018 that if the Supreme Court argued for the overthrow of Roe v. Wade“let’s do it.”

But during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, LePage was much more wary of his views on reproductive rights, struggling to respond directly to what he would do if the Maine legislature introduced additional restrictions on abortion in the state. Several times he avoided answering questions directly, protesting that it was a hypothetical matter or that he did not understand the question.

LePage’s awkward appearance Tuesday highlights the position many anti-abortion Republicans find themselves in, four months after the Supreme Court was overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed the right to abortion in the United States for nearly half a century. The decision has provoked Democratic voters — and put some GOP candidates on the defensive — into a midterm election cycle that typically favors the party that is not in power.

On Tuesday night, a moderator first asked if Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) would support the removal of the “viability” restriction in Maine’s current abortion law, which allows abortion to the point “when the fetus lives indefinitely outside the womb through natural or artificial life support. ” After that, an abortion should only be performed if it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Mills, who has been the governor of Maine since 2019, said she had no plans to change state law, which she says was reflected Roe to Wade.

“I believe a woman’s right to choose is just that: It’s a woman’s right, not a politician’s, and certainly not Mr. LePage’s or anyone in public office,” Mills said. “As long as I am governor, the right to reproductive health care will never be seen as superfluous. My veto will stand in the way of any attempt to undermine, reverse or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

“I never wavered in that position, never ambiguous, never flip-flop,” she added emphatically.

When the moderator started asking LePage the same question, he jumped in himself.

“I served as governor of Maine for eight years. Never have I tried ever, to do — even talk about the abortion law, because I believe in it — the law in effect now is a good bill,” said LePage, who served as governor of Maine from 2011 to 2019. “I believe in protecting the mother’s life from rape…and incest. I also believe in viability.”

Thirteen states will immediately ban abortion as Roe v. Wade is quashed. These restrictions on reproductive rights raise another important question. (Video: Hannah Jewell, Lindsey Sitz, Casey Silvestri/The Washington Post)

The moderator pointed out that the question had actually been different. What would he do as governor if the state legislature presented him with a bill that would impose additional restrictions, such as shortening the viability period to 15 weeks or requiring parental consent before a minor can have an abortion?

“I support the current law as it is,” LePage said.

“And if they brought those bills to you, wouldn’t you sign them?” the moderator asked.

“That’s right,” said LePage.

Mills interrupted, “Well, would you let it go into law without your signature?” she asked.

“I don’t know…” Le Page began.

“That’s the alternative,” Mills said. “You know that. You were governor. You know the possibilities. Would you allow it to be passed into law without your signature?”

A visibly confused LePage dropped his pen to the floor, then leaned over to pick it up as he shot back at Mills: “Would you let a baby breathe? Would you let the baby breathe…’

Mills paused and repeated her questions more slowly. “Would you let a restrictive law go into effect without your signature? Would you block a restriction on abortion?”

“Would I block? Or would-?” said LePage. “This is what I would do. The law in effect now, I have exactly the same place as you. And I would respect the law as it is. You are talking about a hypothetical.”

“Oh, we’re not,” Mills replied, smiling and shaking his head.

“If you say, are we going to remove the restriction, making it illegal for viability?” LePage continued. “No, I wouldn’t sign for that. I would veto that. Viability is now legally established.”

After a short pause, the moderator pointed out that LePage still hadn’t answered the question. Would he veto additional restrictions imposed on him? LePage asked for examples. The moderator gave them one more time.

“If you’re talking about, if I were to veto a viability-altering bill, I’d go to the medical professionals and tell me,” LePage said with a shrug. “I don’t know what you mean by 15 weeks or 28 weeks. Because I do not know. I mean, I’m not sure I understand the question.”

l understand the question,” Mills said bluntly. “I wouldn’t let such a law come into force. My veto can and will stand in the way of any restriction on the right to abortion.”

“If you say limitation — that’s me, I’m trying to understand the question,” LePage said.

Another moderator posed the question one last time.

“So, Governor LePage, if the legislature were to come to you and say we want to change the Maine law, and instead of the viability currently being 28 weeks, the Maine law will now say there are no more abortions. allowed to take place after 15 weeks – would you veto that? she asked.

“Yes,” LePage finally said.

Abortion has become a major topic in many races in November, and polls show the Supreme Court’s decision to Roe v. Wade remains unpopular. While Republicans have generally praised the overturn of the ruling roe, many have preferred not to focus on the issue before midterm exams. But avoiding the topic became more difficult for GOP candidates after Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) introduced a bill last month that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Several red states already have stricter bans. Abortion is now banned or largely banned in 15 states, while laws in several others are in varying legal limbo. In August, Indiana passed a near-complete abortion ban, the first to do so after roe was knocked down.

In August, Kansas voters rejected a referendum that would have allowed state lawmakers to regulate abortion, the first time voters in the state had passed such a change since. roe was overthrown. Last month, South Carolina Republicans fell short in their push for an almost complete abortion ban in the state. Planned Parenthood recently announced that it plans to spend a record $50 million in November electing abortion rights advocates across the country, believing that abortion will help Democratic voters.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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