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Effort to embed abortion rights into Maine Constitution again fails to garner Republican votes

The State House in Augusta at dusk on November 9, 2022.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
/
Maine Public
The State House in Augusta at dusk on November 9, 2022.

An amendment to the Maine Constitution that would enshrine a woman's right to an abortion advanced in the Maine House Tuesday, but the margin was well short of the two-thirds that will eventually be needed to send it to voters for final approval.

The vote broke squarely along party lines with Republicans opposed and all but one Democrat in favor.

During the debate Republicans called the proposal an affront to those who have moral or religious objections to abortion.

Democrats like Rep. Matt Moonen, of Portland, argued that the amendment was needed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

And Moonen challenged Republicans to test their anti-abortion rhetoric with Maine voters.

"If folks are so confident that they know what the majority of Mainers think, why don't we find out. Let's put it on the ballot and let the majority of Maine decide," Moonen said.

Seventy six Democrats supported doing just that, while 67 Republicans opposed it.

And like last week's vote in the Senate, it was short of the two-thirds support that will later be needed to enact the proposal and send it to voters.

The bill is part of a national movement to embed abortion rights into state constitutions over the last several years.

So far, four states including Vermont have adopted such amendments, while nearly a dozen more could be on the ballot this fall.

For Maine to join those states, a significant number of Republican lawmakers will have to change their mind on the pending measure.

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