© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Susan Collins: Leaked Roe opinion 'inconsistent' with previous statements by Kavanaugh, Gorsuch

Susan Collins
Sarah Silbiger
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Washington.

After news broke Monday night that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has drafted an opinion overturning the abortion protections in Roe V. Wade, prominent Maine politicians had a range of reactions.

The development put the greatest spotlight on U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who has expressed support for abortion rights but voted to confirm two of the newest members of the court’s conservative wing: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In a statement on Tuesday, Collins said that the leaked opinion was at odds with previous comments they had made.

Collins: “If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office. Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, were quick to raise concern in written statements and on social media.

Pingree: “If this report is true, it doesn’t matter if we thought it was coming, it’s still devastating. But it is only a *draft* opinion and ABORTION REMAINS LEGAL in this country. We cannot go back to criminalizing women’s health care.”

King: “A potential ruling that ends abortion protections would be appalling, but also firmly aligned with the clear long-term goals of conservative legal leaders; in fact, former President Trump explicitly stated he would only nominate justices who would ‘automatically’ overturn Roe. While we do not yet know the final ruling, Congress must be prepared to take legislative action to enshrine Roe into law.”

Congressman Jared Golden, a Democrat representing Maine’s more conservative 2nd District, called the leaked opinion "concerning," but added "there is still a lot we don't know," including how many justices agree with it or what the court's final decision could look like.

Golden: “As an elected official, I have consistently held and openly shared my pro-choice position with regard to abortion and women’s access to reproductive healthcare options. If the Court ultimately chooses to reverse Roe v. Wade, my position will remain firmly in support of the principles established under Roe.”

At the state level, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills pledged to protect reproductive health rights in Maine: “Unlike an apparent majority of the Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable. And I pledge that as long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care in the face of every and any threat to it – whether from politicians in Augusta or Supreme Court Justices in Washington.”

But former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is now running to take back the Blaine House from Mills, affirmed his opposition to abortion. “As Governor I have a proven history of supporting Life, including helping our most vulnerable women and children facing domestic abuse to our vulnerable senior citizens.”

Updated: May 3, 2022 at 3:32 PM EDT
This piece has been updated with comments from Congressman Jared Golden.