Maine Republicans block abortion amendment



(The Center Square) — Maine Republicans have blocked a Democratic proposal that would have asked voters to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state’s Constitution.

The proposal, sponsored by Senate Democratic Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, called for adding a referendum on the November ballot asking voters if they support amending the constitution “to declare that every person has a right to reproductive autonomy.”

However, the measure failed to gain the required two-thirds majority, which needed to be approved, with the Senate’s entire 13-member Republican minority caucus voting against it and several Democrats absent during the vote.

Pro-abortion groups criticized the Republican move to block the proposed amendment, with the Maine chapter of Planned Parenthood saying Mainers should not have to worry about reproductive rights being “revoked election to election.”

“It is troubling that certain politicians in our state continue to oppose protecting access to essential, legal medical care for Mainers — and prevent their constituents from speaking at the ballot box,” Lisa Margulies, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Maine, said in a statement.

Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment argue it would give voters the choice to protect access to the procedure, with recent polls showing Mainers generally support abortion rights.

“Reproductive autonomy is a human right,” Vitelli said in remarks on Monday. “Maine voters deserve the right to weigh in on this issue.”

But critics, like Maine Right to Life, have blasted the proposed amendment as “immoral” and argue that it would promote a “culture of death” in the state from increased abortions.

“The term reproductive autonomy is a vague euphemism that destroys the dignity given to every human by God,” Lori Cloutuer, of Maine Right to Life, said in recent testimony opposing the bill. “It is intentionally vague, trivializes life and contributes to a moral decay that we have witnessed over the past several decades.”

Several states, including California, Vermont and Michigan, have updated their respective constitutions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protected abortion at the federal level. At least 20 states have enacted bans or near total bans on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld a 15-week ban on abortion but also agreed to allow a proposed amendment that would enshrine abortion protections in the state Constitution to appear on the November ballot.

Florida is one of at least 11 states where pro-abortion advocates are seeking to put the issue before voters in the 2024 elections when turnout is expected to be higher because of the presidential race.

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