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'I won't stop fighting now' — Mills, Pingree headline abortion rights rally in Portland

Maine Gov. Janet Mills at an abortion rights rally in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.
Patty Wight
Maine Public
Maine Gov. Janet Mills at an abortion rights rally in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and state Democratic leaders were among the speakers who urged a rally in downtown Portland Tuesday to keep reproductive rights top of mind when heading to the polls in next week's election.

In the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Democratic state legislative candidates warned rally-goers that they're the last line of defense to ensure Maine's protections for reproductive healthcare remain intact. And Mills vowed that she will fiercely protect access to abortions if re-elected.

"So long as I am governor, you can be damn sure that my veto pen will stand in the way of any and all efforts to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate the right to abortion in our state," she said.

Mills told the crowd that she increased access to reproductive health care as governor by expanding the kinds of providers who can perform abortions and by covering the procedure for patients on MaineCare.

"And I promise you I won't stop fighting now. Not when it's all on the line. With your help we won't go backwards," she said.

Pingree said she's also waging a battle to protect access to abortion at the federal level. She said it's an issue that used to have bipartisan support, but now requires voters to cast ballots to ensure Democratic control.

"I was able to grow up with these rights. My daughters knew these rights. My granddaughters know these rights. And I don't want to ever think they're going to have to live a lifetime in a world where we don't have these rights as women and families. So we are fighting in Congress," she said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has submitted a proposal to ban abortions after 15 weeks.

In a debate this fall, Mills' rival in the race for the Blaine House, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, said he would veto a state level 15-week ban on abortions. That claim has drawn skepticism from critics as LePage attended several rallies against abortion rights while serving as governor.