PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Groups opposed to Maine’s new law expanding access to abortion will not seek to overturn the statute through a so-called People’s Veto Referendum.
Republican Representative Laurel Libby, leader of the Speak Up for LIFE group, said Wednesday that allies have decided to focus their resources on electing anti-abortion candidates instead of collecting signatures and running a referendum campaign.
“At the end of the day, we want to do our best to make the most effective place possible,” Libby, a Republican from Auburn, told The Associated Press. That means flipping legislative seats, she said, especially in the Maine House.
The bill signed last month by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills allows abortions at any time if deemed medically necessary by a physician, making the law one of the least restrictive laws in the country. The previous law, the Reproductive Privacy Act of 1993, banned abortions after a fetus became viable outside the womb, at about 24 weeks, with an exception if the patient’s life is in danger.
Wednesday marked the deadline to notify state officials of a People’s Veto, a constitutional provision that allows citizens to repeal legislation through a statewide vote. To proceed would have required more than 67,000 signatures.
Mills introduced the bill to expand access to abortion after a Yarmouth woman came forward with her story of having to travel to Colorado for an abortion after learning at week 32 of her pregnancy that her unborn son had a had a fatal condition that would prevent him from surviving.
Critics said the language of the law was broader than necessary if the goal was simply to allow abortions in cases of a fatal fetal defect later in a pregnancy. They also said the bill put too much power in the hands of doctors.
Passage was considered a foregone conclusion in the legislature, where Democrats controlled both chambers, and there were enough co-sponsors to ensure passage. But the vote in the House was close after emotional testimony.
In addition to Maine, six states leave the decision to have an abortion unrestricted to doctors and their patients. They are Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont, plus Washington, DC
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