Judiciary Committee supports Sen. Vitelli’s proposed Reproductive Rights Amendment

Posted: February 01, 2024 | Judiciary, Senator Vitelli

AUGUSTA — On Thursday, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted in favor of LD 780, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Protect Personal Reproductive Autonomy,” sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic. The Reproductive Rights Amendment received a vote of 6-5, with two members absent.

Sen. Eloise Vitelli speaks at a press conference introducing the Reproductive Rights Amendment

“As someone who remembers a time before Roe v. Wade, I know how vital access to safe reproductive health care is. Over 50 years after that ruling, the fight over one’s right to choose one’s own destiny continues,” said Sen. Vitelli. “The best way to get politics out of abortion, and abortion out of politics, is to make sure our state constitution is clear: Reproductive autonomy is a human right. Maine voters deserve the right to weigh in on this issue, to ensure their medical privacy and autonomy is protected.”

LD 780 would add clarifying language to Maine’s Constitution that would explicitly enshrine an individual’s right to reproductive freedom. As a proposed constitutional amendment, a vote to pass the bill would send the matter to voters for them to decide in a statewide ballot issue.

As approved by Committee, the proposed amendment would read:

“Every person has a right to reproductive autonomy. Neither the State nor any political subdivision of the State may deny or infringe on a person’s right to reproductive autonomy unless the denial or infringement is justified by a compelling state interest and is accomplished using the least restrictive means necessary. Nothing in this section narrows or limits a person’s right to privacy or equal protection. 

“For purposes of this section, the State’s or political subdivision’s interest in denying or infringing a person’s right to reproductive autonomy is ‘compelling’ only if it is for the limited purpose of protecting the health of the individual seeking care, is consistent with accepted clinical standards of practice and evidence-based medicine and does not infringe on that person’s autonomous decision-making.”

“Reproductive rights are human rights. Politicians have no business interfering with Mainers’ deeply personal medical decisions or undermining basic human rights. Yet when it comes to reproductive health care, specifically abortion care, it seems that certain politicians can’t help themselves,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “The ability to exercise your rights — our rights as Mainers — shouldn’t depend on elections or be subject to political whims. It’s why I’m proud to stand here alongside my colleagues, patients and advocates to call for the Reproductive Rights Amendment. Let’s put to rest any questions and make the Constitution clear. Let’s send the Reproductive Rights Amendment to the voters and end the cycle of attacks on Mainer’s fundamental freedoms.”

LD 780 now faces votes in the Senate and House. It will need to receive two-thirds support in both chambers in order to advance.