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From 'catastrophic' to 'welcome' — how influential Mainers reacted to the fall of Roe v. Wade

Faith Adams from Bangor, Maine, protests about abortion, Friday, June 24, 2022, outside the Supreme Court in Washington.
Steve Helber
Faith Adams from Bangor, Maine, protests about abortion, Friday, June 24, 2022, outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

Maine politicians and leaders responded swiftly on Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning the half-century-old Roe v. Wade. Here's what they said:

Maine Gov. Janet Mills

Mills, a Democrat, is calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade “a fundamental assault on women’s rights and on reproductive freedom that will do nothing to stop abortion."

In a written statement, Mills says the decision will only make abortion less safe and jeopardize the lives of women and she vowed to defend the right to reproductive health care in Maine.

The Mills administration has expanded access to abortion care, including allowing physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions.

The governor also signed legislation to require private and public insurance providers to cover abortion care.

Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Deeley

The Diocese of Portland says the Supreme Court's ruling reaffirms that every life is sacred and promotes protection for women and children from the grave injustice of abortion.

In a statement, Deeley said "we welcome the possibility of saving the lives of countless unborn children and sparing many women and families from pain."

The Diocese of Portland said it will continue to support women who are experiencing difficulties in pregnancy through its various Catholic agencies in Maine.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins

In a written statement, Collins, a Republican, called the ruling an "ill-considered action."

"We need the Court to show both consistency and restraint. Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative. It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government," she said.

Collins faces renewed national scrutiny for her votes to confirm Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and she cited them by name in her statement.

"This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon," she wrote.

U.S. Sen Angus King

King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is calling the Supreme Court's decision "deeply infuriating."

In a statement, King said the right to a safe, legal abortion has been reaffirmed by the Court time and time again, and that the conservative majority is imposing "their own personal and religious views on women across the country."

Fortunately, King said, Maine women will not be denied this basic right thanks to protections in the state constitution and the leadership of Gov. Mills.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

Pingree calls the overturning of Roe v. Wade a "catastrophic" decision by a "shamefully partisan" Supreme Court.

In a statement, Pingree said "government control of reproduction is downright totalitarian ... rooted in ideological zealotry, not the common good."

In Sept. 2021, Pingree and the U.S. House voted to pass the Women's Health Protection Act that ensured abortion access nationwide and codified protections established by the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden

In a written statement, Golden called the Supreme Court decision a "grave mistake."

"In many parts of the country, there will be serious and harmful consequences for millions of women," he wrote. "While the odds of success may be long, I believe Congress should work to find ways to protect women’s rights to the greatest extent possible by codifying as much of the Roe and Casey frameworks as possible within the constraints of our narrow majorities, even if we are unable to preserve the entire pre-Dobbs status quo.”

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey

Frey described the ruling as a "gut punch," despite early indications that the Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A 1993 state law means abortion remains legal in Maine. And in an appearance on Maine Calling, Frey says the state also provides some financial support for those who can't afford an abortion. But he issued a word of caution:

"These statutes last only as long as the laws do. So we need to be thinking about how policymakers here in Maine should continue to robustly support women's right to choose to have an abortion," he said.

In a written statement, Frey described the court's decision on Roe as the product of years of work by the religious right to control public life. And he likened those motives to ones that drove another opinion from the Supreme Court earlier this week, which ruled that Maine can't exclude religious schools from a state tuition program.

Maine Public reporters Carol Bousquet, Nicole Ogrysko and Patty Wight contributed to this story.