Throughout last year, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills stated repeatedly in her debates with former Republican Gov. Paul LePage that she would not pursue changes to Maine’s abortion laws.
That campaign promise went up in flames this week: Mills has totally reversed her position on Maine’s abortion law.
As the Maine House Republicans pointed out in a press release Tuesday, Mills said in the October 4, 2022, debate with LePage that she would not do what she just did.
When asked, “Would you support removing the current viability restriction in Maine’s law?” Mills said, “No, I support the current Maine law.”
On Tuesday, she said the law needs to change, and she specifically came out in favor of ending the viability restriction, a provision that has for 30 years prevented late-term abortions in Maine.
Mills support for bringing late-term abortion to Maine is a newsworthy contradiction of the policy she campaigned on. Such a flipflop raises the question of what other things she said during the campaign are no longer true — or perhaps were never true.
For example, does Mills really oppose adding the controversial COVID-19 mRNA injections to the list of immunizations mandated for school children? She said that during the debates, but now we know those pre-Election Day statements are no longer operative.
In covering Mills’ abortion reversal, several Maine reporters declined to point out the departure from the policy she held during the campaign, or did so very gingerly.
At MainePublic.com, Steve Mistler’s report Tuesday afternoon didn’t mention Mills’ previous position on abortion at all.
The first Associated Press story, which was carried by WABI and several other news outlets, did not mention the flipflop.
The Press Herald report mentioned Mills’ previous position but only in the form of a perfunctory quote of the Republican press release.
Michael Shepherd, writing in the Bangor Daily News, offered the most honest portrayal of them all, admitting the move is “somewhat of a reversal.”
Which is interesting, considering his story about Mills’ proposing major changes to abortion law happens to link to a piece he wrote during the campaign headlined: “Janet Mills wants no changes to Maine’s abortion laws.“
What explains the pattern of omission of this part of the story?
Maybe they all decided it’s not newsworthy when the top politician in a state says one thing, then does another. Or perhaps they’re afraid of the professional consequences they might suffer should they offend Mills or her staffers. But if the roles were reversed, and third term Gov. LePage was proposing abortion restrictions after campaigning, more or less, on the same position Mills took, I suspect these very reporters wouldn’t be so timid about calling a lie a lie.