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Paul LePage struggles to answer abortion questions in debate with Maine Gov. Janet Mills

During his two terms as governor of Maine, Republican Paul LePage attended anti-abortion rallies, argued that “we shouldn’t have abortion” and said he would file a Supreme Court repeal case in 2018. Roe v. used“Let’s do it.”

But at a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, LePage was cautious about his views on reproductive rights, struggling to respond directly when asked what he would do if the Maine Legislature introduced additional restrictions on abortion in the state. Many times, he avoided answering the questions directly, protesting that it was a hypothetical issue or that he did not understand the question.

LePage’s awkward appearance Tuesday highlights the state of many anti-abortion Republicans four months after the Supreme Court’s reversal Roe v. used, the 1973 decision guaranteed the right to abortion in the United States for nearly half a century. The decision galvanized Democratic voters — and put some GOP candidates on the defensive — in favor of the party that is typically out of power in the midterm election cycle.

On Tuesday night, a moderator first asked Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) whether she would support removing the “viability” restriction in Maine’s current abortion law, which allows abortions to be performed “as long as the life of the fetus continues indefinitely outside the fetus.” pregnancy by natural or artificial life support.” Thereafter, abortion may be performed only when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Mills, who has served as Maine’s governor since 2019, has no plans to change state law, which she said reflects that. Roe v. used

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is just that: it’s a woman’s right, not a politician’s and certainly not Mr. LePage’s or anyone sitting in public office,” Mills said. “As long as I am governor, the right to reproductive health care will never be considered deliverable. My veto pen will stand in the way of any attempt to undermine, roll back, or completely eliminate the right to a safe and legal abortion in Maine.

“I never wavered, never doubted, never flipped in that position,” she added pointedly.

As the moderator began asking LePage the same question, he jumped in himself.

“I served eight years as governor of Maine. I never tried, never, To do — I’ll also talk about the abortion bill, because I believe — the bill that’s in place right now is a good bill,” said LePage, who was governor of Maine from 2011 to 2019. “I believe that the mother’s life should be protected from rape … and adultery. I also believe in feasibility. “

Thirteen states immediately banned abortion after Roe v. Wade was overturned. These restrictions on reproductive rights raise a crucial question. (Video: Hannah Jewell, Lindsay Seitz, Casey Silvestri/The Washington Post)

The moderator pointed out that the question was actually different. What would he do as governor if the state legislature brought him a bill that would add additional restrictions, such as reducing the viability period to 15 weeks before a minor can have an abortion or requiring parental consent?

“I support the current law,” LePage said.

“And if they brought those bills to you, wouldn’t you sign them?” asked the moderator.

“That’s right,” LePage said.

Mills interrupted: “Well, will you allow it to become law without your signature?” she asked.

“I don’t know…” Le Page began.

“That’s the alternative,” Mills said. “You know that. You’re the governor. You know what the options are. Would you let it go into law without your signature?”

A visibly flustered LePage drops his pen on the floor and then stoops to pick it up as he fires back at Mills: you Should the baby be allowed to breathe? Will you let the baby breathe…”

Mills paused and repeated her questions more slowly. “Enforce a conscription law without your signature? do you prevent Is there a restriction on abortion?”

“Do I stop? Or -?” LePage said. “This is what I do. The law as it stands right now, I have the exact same space that you have. And I respect the law. You’re talking hypothetically.”

“Oh, we’re not,” Mills replied with a laugh and a shake of her head.

“If you’re saying we’ll remove the limit, it’s illegal for viability?” LePage continued. “No, I will not sign it. I will veto it. The possibility is now in the law.”

After a brief pause, the moderator pointed out that LePage still hadn’t answered the question. Will he veto additional restrictions that come his way? LePage asked for examples. Moderator presented them once again.

“If you’re talking about me vetoing a bill that changes viability, I’m going to go to the medical experts to tell me,” LePage said with a shrug. “I don’t know what you mean by 15 weeks or 28 weeks. Because I don’t know. I mean, I’m not sure I understand the question.

I Understand the question,” Mills insisted. “I will not allow such legislation to take effect. My veto will stand in the way of any restrictions on the right to abortion.

“When you say limit — I, I’m trying to understand the question,” LePage said.

A different moderator asked the question last time.

“So, Governor LePage, the Legislature comes to you and says we want to change Maine law, and instead of the current viability at 28 weeks, now Maine law is going to say no abortions after 15 weeks — are you going to veto that? ” she asked.

“Yes,” LePage finally said.

Abortion has become a key issue in many races this November, with polls showing the Supreme Court overturning the decision. Roe v. used Not popular. Republicans generally applauded the governing coup Roy, many prefer not to focus on the issue before the midterms. Sen. Avoiding the issue became more difficult for GOP candidates after Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) last month introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Many red states already have strict bans. Abortion is now banned or mostly banned in 15 states, but many other laws are at various legal hurdles. In August, Indiana nearly passed an abortion ban, the first of its kind Roy was struck

In August, Kansas voters narrowly rejected a referendum that would have allowed state lawmakers to regulate abortion, the first time state voters have decided on such an amendment since. Roy Overturned. Last month, South Carolina Republicans nearly failed in their bid for an abortion ban in the state. Planned Parenthood announced in November that it plans to spend a record $50 million in an effort to elect abortion rights supporters nationwide.

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