Sen. Vitelli introduces Reproductive Rights Amendment on 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Posted: January 22, 2024 | Judiciary, Senator Vitelli
Sen. Eloise Vitelli speaks at a press conference introducing LD 780, the Reproductive Rights Amendment.

AUGUSTA — On Monday, Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, introduced  LD 780, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Protect Personal Reproductive Autonomy,” at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Monday also marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“In my lifetime, I remember when my access to birth control was limited and access to safe, legal abortion was, for most of us, nonexistent. Then I remember when things changed, when my privacy rights were legally recognized, and access to abortion care was no longer illegal, dangerous, and clandestine. For 50 years, some of us came to believe we indeed had a guaranteed right to reproductive liberty,” said Sen. Vitelli. “With this bill, we send the decision to clearly enshrine reproductive rights into the Maine Constitution to the Maine voters. The ability to determine our reproductive health is a fundamental human right, and it deserves the same level of protection as our other constitutionally protected rights.”

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.

“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.”

“Despite the gains we’ve made, the laws we’ve passed are not guaranteed past the next election. Ultimately, Maine voters deserve the opportunity to weigh in and affirm that Maine’s constitution protects reproductive rights,” said Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland. “These basic, fundamental rights should not be up for discussion, and they should not be up for debate every election year. This amendment would ensure that the rights Mainers have today will be protected in the future.”

“Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade almost two years ago, I had never known a world where reproductive freedom wasn’t protected,” said Rep. Sophie Warren, D-Scarborough, lead co-sponsor on the bill. “Since that decision, we have been lucky here in Maine that reproductive rights have largely remained protected. However, the laws that are currently in place are not guaranteed past the next election. It is time for the Legislature to pass this amendment, get out of the way and give Maine people the opportunity to vote to enshrine these critical protections once and for all.”

LD 780 faces further action in committee.