Earlier this week, a draft opinion by the United States Supreme Court became public. That opinion revealed that the Court apparently has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade completely.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
The Chief Justice of the Court has now confirmed the authenticity of that draft opinion. Although it is not a final ruling, women across Maine and all across America are rightly worried right now – worried that their fundamental right to a safe and legal abortion and to reproductive health care is near its end; worried about what that uncertainty could mean for their health, their lives, and their futures; and worried about what this draft opinion says about the values of our nation and women’s place in it.
They are right to be worried. I know what it means to live in a world without Roe v. Wade.
I grew up in rural, western Maine, in Farmington in the 60s and 70s.
I loved growing up there, and it is still my home today and a big part of who I am, but I have got to tell you – it was by no means a hotbed of women’s rights activism when I came of age.
This was a time when abortion was still illegal, when women across Maine who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant and in need had nowhere to turn. And it was when an abortion, if you could get one, it involved a clandestine, dangerous arrangement.
It was a time when birth control itself was virtually impossible to obtain, especially in rural Maine where the local doctor or the pharmacist was likely to be your neighbor, and when the best method to avoid pregnancy, we were all told, was to be “extremely careful.”
It was a time when women’s health was of secondary concern and it was impolite or out-of-line to discuss reproductive health.
We have come a long way since then. But not without a struggle.
The history of this struggle and the progress we have made, well it’s a history I have been proud to take part in – from co-founding the Maine Women’s Lobby when it was clear that women’s voices were not being heard in Augusta.
To standing up to those who would harass, intimidate, and block women from going to a Planned Parenthood clinic.
To advocating for legislation to make safe abortion available to women across Maine, in rural or medically under-served areas.
But the struggle is far from over.
With this draft decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, forces that would undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate the right to use birth control or to obtain reproductive health care, to obtain a safe and legal abortion are more powerful today than they have been in decades, despite the overwhelming public support for reproductive rights.
Well, I want to be very clear: unlike an apparent majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable.
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.
My Administration will continue to ensure that every person in this state has access to affordable, high-quality health care and that includes reproductive services and to ensure that they can obtain that care free from harassment and intimidation no matter where they live in Maine. This is my promise.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.