Right to abortion unlikely to be enshrined in Maine Constitution after vote falls short

An effort to enshrine the right to abortion in the Maine Constitution appears to have failed after a vote to send the proposal to voters for ratification fell short in the House.

Hours after a court ruling set the stage for a near-total ban on abortions in Arizona, the Maine House voted 75-65 Tuesday night in favor of the amendment — but it fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

For a constitutional amendment to pass in Maine, both chambers of the legislature have to approve it by a two-thirds majority, then voters have the final say at the ballot box. The Senate was scheduled to vote on the measure Wednesday, but without House approval, it is effectively dead.

Maine already has one of the nation’s least restrictive abortion laws. The amendment was an effort to head off any future legislative debate on the issue.

Republicans described the proposal as political theater because the outcome was a forgone conclusion. But the roll call ensures lawmakers’ votes will be on record, which could have consequences in an election year, amendment supporters said.

“Last night’s vote was infuriating and shameful, but it will galvanize Mainers from all corners of the state,” Lisa Margulies, from the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, said Wednesday morning, chastising lawmakers for not letting voters have the final word at the ballot box. “Now we know where every elected official in the House stands on reproductive rights.”

The vote came after the Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to enforce a long-dormant law that bans nearly all abortions. The law, which predates Arizona’s statehood, provides no exceptions for rape or incest and allows abortions only if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.

Maine was one of more than a dozen states considering ballot measures dealing with abortion for this year or for 2026. Amendments are currently on the November ballot in Florida, Maryland and New York.

Abortion questions have appeared on statewide ballots seven times since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. In each case, the side backed by abortion-rights advocates prevailed — even in conservative states such as Kansas and Kentucky and swing states such as Michigan and Ohio.

Maine’s Democratic-controlled Legislature last year approved a law that allows abortions at any time if deemed medically necessary by a doctor. Maine’s previous law, adopted in 1993, made abortions legal until a fetus becomes viable outside the womb, at roughly 26 to 28 weeks.


Associated Press reporter Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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