The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade means the decision on whether abortions will be an option is left to each state.

With that in mind, the Courier-Gazette asked each local candidate for the Maine Legislature what their position is on either restricting abortions or guaranteeing access. Emails were sent to each candidate shortly after noon Friday, June 24, following the high court’s ruling.

State Senate District 12 Democratic candidate Anne “Pinny” Beebe-Center of Rockland said, “For nearly half a century, the constitutional right to an abortion has been protected for all American women. I strongly believe that all people should have the right to access reproductive health services including abortion. The overturning of Roe v Wade underscores the need for all generations who have appreciated this right to come together and elect candidates who will support access to abortion.”

“Throughout my time in the Legislature, I’ve supported legislation to increase access to reproductive healthcare, and I’ve voted against any measure that would limit a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive health decisions. In the Senate, I will continue to champion policies that support the right to choose,” Beebe-Center concluded.

Senate District 12 includes all of Knox County, except the towns of Washington and Isle au Haut.

Republican state Senate District 12 candidate Scott Rocknak of Camden said, “Mainers on both sides are passionate on the subject of abortion.

“For many it’s a one-issue litmus test for any candidate or sitting legislator. This subject has been very divisive for our communities, our state, and our unique nation. Emotions are raw and volatile. This is a stressful time for us as citizens, a diving economy and the skyrocketing costs of living; a constant drumbeat of the now present specter of war on multiple fronts; another looming pandemic on the horizon; and the equally charged approaches to educating our kids. All these have consequential societal separation and induced strife. There is much we need to address,” Rocknak said.

Rocknak continued, “We need to keep our collective attention focused on all of this as a whole. We need to work together. You’ve heard it before, ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ Falling is not an option. Really folks, it’s not. As legislators, the need to respect the positions of our constituents is paramount. Legislators need to listen. Will all the parties get what they want? Certainly not. Can we move in a direction that allows a more cohesive status quo? Potentially yes. It troubles me to see positions drawn in the sand. ‘I will fight for this, fight for that.’ It’s this rhetoric that wears on us. Rhetoric always has a purpose. Instead, let’s explore avenues that help lift us together.

“Maine has provided for legal abortion access in MRSA Title 22, Subtitle 2, Part 3, Chapter 263-B, §1591-§1599. My observation is that certain language in Title 22 may need technical clarification now left open by the recent Supreme Court Decision, I’m not thrilled with some of the current subsections, but for the most part, and in my opinion, it should be left intact. For those looking for legal and safe abortion, Title 22 is there now. It’s the law. Now is not the time to make drastic changes. In the meantime, let’s continue our efforts supporting our neighbors who face difficult choices. Let’s endeavor to improve the access and the education to options that are available as an
alternative to abortion. Ideally, the demand will diminish,” he said.

“The state is equally divided. Both sides need to respect this reality. Anger flourishes in the extreme positions. Compassion floods the middle. Maine is, and always has been, a compassionate state. Let’s
prove it and let’s prove ‘as Maine goes, so goes the nation.’ Our country aches for it,” Rocknak concluded.

Rep. Valli Geiger, D-Rockland, said, “I am strongly pro-choice and always have been. I am aghast at the removal of a fundamental right of self determination. A woman’s body is no longer her own, her choices no longer her’s to determine.

“In Maine, that is not true. In Maine, the law is clear and women’s right to their own body and their own choices around that body are also clear. But, this right to bodily independence will be under siege. There were six bills introduced into session last year that would have restricted abortion. The 17 member majority in the Democratic party ensured they were all defeated.

“We can expect many more bills to prohibit abortion and let’s be clear about the real agenda here. Justice Thomas laid it out, by the conservative majority’s interpretation of the constitution, many other rights fall as well: Gay marriage, protection from discrimination and even the right to contraception are now in question and will be pursued by Republican members of state legislatures. We are spinning backwards.

“I would support a constitutional amendment but I think it will be difficult to pass. We could not pass the Equal Rights Amendment this past session. We do not have a two-thirds majority and that is what is needed.

“The majority of Americans support all of those rights, but have been on the sidelines. This cannot stand if they involve themselves and vote for their values,” Geiger concluded.

House District 42 includes Rockland, North Haven, Criehaven, Matinicus Isle, Muscle Ridge Islands and part of Owls Head.

Her Republican challenger Roger Tranfaglia of Rockland did not respond to the email or text request for comment.

Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, said, “I know that the majority of Americans — and the majority of Mainers — want abortion to be legal, and that numerous polls indicate two thirds of Americans did not want Roe overturned. My belief is that no matter what anti-abortion politicians or this out-of-touch Supreme Court says, the right to make your own reproductive health care decisions, to decide what is best for your body and future, is fundamental.

“I am proud that my legislative record shows my commitment  to expanded access to reproductive health care, and my resolve to defeat bills that would have limited access. Going forward as State Representative for District 41, I will remain committed to supporting ALL Maine residents’ access to safe and legal abortion care because it is essential helath care,” Doudera said.

Doudera is vying for the House seat that represents Camden and Rockport and is being challenged by Republican Susan Lee Butterworth of Camden.

Butterworth has not responded to a text or email for comment.

Rep. Ann Matlack, D-St. George, said, “We all knew this decision was coming, and still it was a shock to hear that Roe v. Wade had been overturned. We here in Maine are lucky, for now, that we have statutes in place supporting the rights of women to make their own decisions regarding their health care. I would never vote for legislation that would roll back these rights, and I will always support access to health care for all.”

Matlack’s Republican challenger Heather Ann Sprague, of Cushing, stated, “I am pro-life.”

Matlack and Sprague are seeking the Maine House District 43 seat that represents Cushing, Thomaston, South Thomaston, St George and part of Owls Head.

Rep. William Pluecker, an Independent from Warren, said, “I have always voted for bodily autonomy and personal choice and against government interference in a person’s health care. I have been consistent in this principal from vaccine mandates to abortion access. I am 45 years old, and that was the America that I was raised in. The hyper politicization of the issue of abortion serves to divide our communities and increasingly polarize American politics. This, in turn, increases partisan power games in the legislature and impacts our ability to address the immediate issues: The increasing cost of food, fuel, and property taxes. I am pro-choice and I stand by the traditions of sensible abortion access that have been at the bedrock of our personal liberties since I was a boy, and I am also ready to fight for the issues that make a difference in my rural community.”

Pluecker is seeking the Maine House District 44 seat that includes Hope, Union and Warren. He is being challenged by Republican Crystal Lynn Robinson of Hope.

Robinson said, “It is not the job of the Supreme Court to legislate. The Supreme Court was correct to rule that abortion is not a right because our Constitution protects life.  I would not support a constitutional amendment to guarantee access to abortion. On the other hand, I would not support a law punishing a woman who gets an abortion or a doctor who provides an abortion. Since the beginning of time, women in desperate situations have aborted their babies. If we remove the fear of prosecution and judgement and focus on helping women, should they decide to keep their babies, my hope is that more women will choose not to abort their babies.

“I am pro-adoption and making adoption more accessible to loving parents. I am pro-supporting women who have to make a very difficult decision that will have lifelong consequences. Women need our love and our empathy regardless of their personal choices. I am also pro-medical freedom. It is impossible to have medical freedom when the government dictates what doctors can and cannot do, what insurance companies may or may not cover, and what medical procedures people must have or must not have,” Robinson concluded.

Clinton Collamore Sr., D-Waldoboro, who is seeking the House District 45 that includes Friendship, Washington, Waldoboro, Bremen, and Louds Island, said, “Courts and politicians should not be deciding health issues for anyone.”

Republican candidate for House District 45 Lynn Madison of Waldoboro did not respond by Saturday morning to an email.

District 13 Democratic state Senate candidate Cameron Reny said, “The choice of if — or when — to have a child is profoundly personal. I am firmly part of the pro-choice majority in Maine, and I will always fight to keep health decisions between us and our doctors, where it belongs. Abortion is an essential component of healthcare, and to that end, I will always fight to protect abortion rights and push back against any efforts to limit reproductive health care. I am thankful that Maine currently protects abortion rights, and in the Senate, I will work hard to protect and expand access to vital reproductive health services.”

Reny, an educator from Round Pound, is facing former Republican state Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro on the November ballot. Simmons had not responded as of Saturday. Senate District 13 represents nearly all of Lincoln County, as well as the Knox County town of Washington and the Kennebec town of Windsor.

The Republican candidate for the Senate District 13 seat, former Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro, had not responded by early Saturday afternoon but said he would be issuing a statement.

Democratic state Rep. candidate Holly Eaton of Deer Isle said, “I am appalled by the SCOTUS ruling on Roe vs. Wade and that women now have less rights over their own bodies. An abortion is a private, personal decision between a woman and her healthcare provider. I will protect access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare services, including abortion for all Maine people.”

Eaton is running to represent House District 15 which includes the Knox County towns of Vinalhaven and Isle au Haut, and the Hancock County towns of Brooklin, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swans Island and Tremont.

Eaton’s Republican opponent Jason Joyce of Swans Island has not responded.