After four days of silence after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, yesterday Paul LePage finally answered questions about his newfound power to restrict abortion rights in Maine if re-elected. At first, LePage tried to downplay the issue that has brought thousands of Maine people to the streets in protest in recent days and to evade questions about what restrictions he would support:
News Center Maine: "I don't have time for abortion, it's that simple," LePage said. "I don't think in the next four years that that is going to capture that much of my time…abortion affects few Mainers.”
WMTW: “I don’t think a governor should take a position on a social issue,” LePage said…LePage was asked if he'd support any ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, now in effect in Texas, or after 15 weeks, as currently in effect in Mississippi, the law the Supreme Court upheld. LePage said, "I don't know. I would have to look at the science.”
However, pretty soon LePage was back to his old self, making inflammatory comments and refusing to rule out signing new abortion restrictions into law:
Press Herald: While LePage distanced himself from any official position on new restrictions, he was quick to use inflammatory “baby killer” language that will appeal to conservative abortion foes within his own party…“The Democratic Party will kill babies all day long,” LePage said during an interview after the event.
Maine Public: LePage reiterated his opposition to using tax dollars to pay for abortion — something that is now allowed under a bill strongly supported by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to require MaineCare to cover the procedure.
Press Herald: He refused to…pledge to veto a bill that would restrict abortion, which in Maine is allowed until the time the fetus is viable, around 22-24 weeks.
LePage’s callous and incendiary remarks drew condemnation from a wide range of voices:
Zach Blanchard, News Center Maine: Many many women in Maine feel differently. This issue (not the economy) will be top of mind when they head to the polls in November.
Alex Seitz-Wald, NBC News: Kinder, gentler, more focused Paul LePage 2.0 on the stump...and spiteful, belligerent Paul LePage 1.0 in the interview.
WMTW: A Portland-area family doctor who also serves as an abortion provider calls the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade “devastating”...[she] took issue Tuesday with comments made by former Maine governor and current candidate Paul LePage when he stated at a campaign event that, “abortion affects few Mainers.”
James Myall, Maine Center for Economic Policy: LePage continues to suggest he’d sign anti-abortion bills but won’t say what restrictions he’d accept. No one should allow him to brush away a question that impacts so many Mainers’ fundamental right.