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Opponents of abortion consider people's veto effort if they can't stop expansion legislation

State Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, speaks during an anti-abortion rally Monday at the State House Hall of Flags.
Steve Mistler
Maine Public
State Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, speaks during an anti-abortion rally Monday at the State House Hall of Flags.

The director of the Christian Civic League of Maine says opponents of Gov. Janet Mills' abortion expansion proposal are considering a people's veto if the bill passes, but Carroll Conley says he still thinks there's a chance to stop it in the Legislature.

The Christian Civic League is one of the most influential abortion opposition groups in the state and would likely play a key role in organizing like-minded churches and political groups to launch a people's veto effort.

And its ability to mobilize abortion opponents was on display Monday when hundreds filled the State House for a nearly 19-hour long public hearing on the governor's proposal, which would extend abortion access beyond the point of viability to later in a pregnancy if a doctor deems it medically necessary.

Right now the only exception to the current restriction is to protect the life or health of the mother.

Conley says his group is contemplating a people's veto referendum, but it's currently focusing its efforts on persuading a small group of House Democrats who have expressed reservations about the governor's proposal to vote against it.

"Yeah, it's [a people's veto] a consideration. I can say from the strategic point we don't want to get ahead of that," he said. "We don't agree with the idea that this is something that can't be stopped."

Of the 103 Democrats in Augusta, more than 90 are co-sponsors of the governor's bill.

Nineteen of 22 Senate Democrats have signed on, but Conley says it's a small group of House Democrats that will determine the bill's fate.

The proposal is still being worked by the Judiciary Committee, which could amend it before sending it to the House and Senate for votes.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.