Maine Senate joins House in supporting greater access to abortions

Jun 27, 2023, 10:32 AM

Demonstrators opposed to a bill to expand abortion access gather in the halls of the Maine State Ho...

Demonstrators opposed to a bill to expand abortion access gather in the halls of the Maine State House on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, in Augusta, Maine. The Maine Senate voted to expand abortion access Tuesday following an emotional debate, advancing a proposal that would give the state one of the least restrictive abortion laws in the country. (AP Photo/David Sharp)

(AP Photo/David Sharp)

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate voted to expand abortion access Tuesday following an emotional debate, advancing a proposal that would give the state one of the least restrictive abortion laws in the country.

The 21-13 vote lacked the 11th-hour hustle to ensure support that happened before the bill was narrowly approved late last week in the House. Two more votes were needed, one in the House and one in the Senate, to enact the bill.

Demonstrators opposed to the bill later sang hymns, held signs and chanted “kill the bill!” in the hallways.

Current state law bans abortions after a fetus becomes viable outside the womb, at roughly 24 weeks, unless a mother’s life is at risk. The bill would allow abortions any time before birth if deemed medically necessary by a doctor.

Supporters said the change was necessary in heartbreakingly rare circumstances when fatal anomalies are discovered later in a pregnancy.

“How do we legislate the unimaginable?” said Sen. Jill Dusan, D-Portland. “We do so by making sure that those who face the unimaginable have the freedom they need to make the decision that is right for them.”

But Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, said changes were unnecessary to the current law that he co-sponsored years ago and was signed into law by then-Republican Gov. John McKernan.

“This bill represents a fundamental shift from the uneasy consensus we’ve had in Maine for the past 30 years,” he said.

The Senate vote came days after the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that women don’t have a constitutional right to an abortion, returning authority to the states.

The measure sailed through the Democratic-controlled Senate, unlike in the House where Democrats took an hourslong break and held the original vote open for 45 minutes before the measure passed 74-72. Republicans were angered over the tactics, but that Senate debate was civil.

The abortion bill was nonetheless contentious.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said during her reelection campaign that she was content with the existing abortion law, but she unveiled a proposal to expand abortion access in January in response to the case of a woman who had to travel to Colorado for an abortion after discovering 32 weeks into her pregnancy that her baby would not survive outside the womb.

Opponents feared that the governor’s bill would allow abortions to become rampant and that healthy babies that were viable outside the womb would be aborted.

Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland called the bill “immoral” and said it went against the wishes of hundreds of Mainers who testified against it at a 19-hour public hearing.

“This measure eliminates any protections for children who cannot speak for themselves but will suffer because of it,” he said in a statement. He said abortion supporters bowed to “whispers of special interests.”

House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, sponsor of the governor’s bill, was targeted over the weekend with anti-abortion flyers calling her a “baby killer” and chalk messages left outside her Portland home.

Portland police launched an investigation and the Christian Civic League of Maine condemned the tactics.


Follow David Sharp on Twitter @David_Sharp_AP

United States News

Associated Press

Heat has forced organizers to cancel Twin Cities races that draw up to 20,000 runners

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A forecast that record high temperatures and humidity would create “extreme and dangerous” conditions prompted organizers to cancel two long-distance races Sunday in Minnesota’s two largest cities that were expected to draw up to 20,000 runners. The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon from Minneapolis to neighboring St. Paul had been expected to draw […]

34 minutes ago

File - The Southern University Human Jukebox marching band warms up before the 2023 National Battle...

Associated Press

Federal student loan payments are starting again. Here’s what you need to know

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal student loan borrowers will need to start making payments again this month after a three-year-plus pause due to the pandemic. You should expect a bill that lays out how much you have to pay each month at least 21 days before your due date. It’s likely that most borrowers have […]

58 minutes ago

FILE - Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., appears before the House Rules Committee to propose amendments to t...

Associated Press

Gaetz says he will seek to oust McCarthy as speaker this week and calls for new House leadership

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Matt Gaetz said Sunday he will try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week after McCarthy relied on Democratic support to pass legislation that avoided a government shutdown. Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy nemesis, said McCarthy was in “brazen, material breach” of agreements he […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Chester County, Pa. election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots at West Chester Un...

Associated Press

Pennsylvania governor’s voter registration change draws Trump’s ire in echo of 2020 election clashes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Donald Trump has a familiar target in his sights: Pennsylvania’s voting rules. He never stopped attacking court decisions on mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, falsely claiming it as a reason for his 2020 loss in the crucial battleground state. Now, the former Republican president is seizing on a decision by […]

3 hours ago

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023, in Washington. The new term of the ...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court may tackle guns, abortion in new session starting Monday

Major cases await, as they always do, including several challenges to regulatory agencies and efforts to regulate social media platforms.

4 hours ago

Run by a private firm hired by the city, migrants stay in a makeshift shelter at O'Hare Internation...

Associated Press

Chicago is keeping hundreds of migrants at airports while waiting on shelters and tents

CHICAGO (AP) — Hidden behind a heavy black curtain in one of the nation’s busiest airports is Chicago’s unsettling response to a growing population of asylum-seekers arriving by plane. Hundreds of migrants, from babies to the elderly, live inside a shuttle bus center at O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 1. They sleep on cardboard pads on […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Maine Senate joins House in supporting greater access to abortions