Two weeks from the gubernatorial primary elections, the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and PAC is releasing filmed messages from six of the candidates explaining their support of Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights.
“From access to health care and affordable coverage to reproductive rights and equality, there’s a lot at stake for Maine in this election,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy of the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “It’s important voters understand the positions of the candidates in advance of the primary, their level of commitment to advancing health care policy for all, and ability to push back against attempts to insert politics in the exam room. Six candidates committed to supporting women’s rights, reproductive health care, and Planned Parenthood.”
All gubernatorial candidates in primaries were invited to tour the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Portland health center, meet with patients, staff, and volunteers, and share their views. Six accepted.
During the health center tour, candidates learned about the broad services Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) provides to more than 11,500 patients in Maine including essential primary care, comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care and abortion services. PPNNE offers care with a sliding fee scale ensuring that all who walk through the doors have access to high quality, affordable care. For many, PPNNE is their only access to the health care system in Maine. Last year, PPNNE provided more than $4.2 million in discounted or free care to its Maine patients.
Adam Cote, State Senator Mark Dion, former House Speaker Mark Eves, Attorney General Janet Mills, former Representative Diane Russell, and Betsy Sweet returned the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund PAC candidate questionnaire with 100% and visited the Portland health center earlier this month.
“I support Planned Parenthood because you’re at the forefront of providing access for medical care for people across the state,” stated Adam Cote.
“Anything we can do working with Planned Parenthood to integrate women’s health care issues with the general population is critical. We shouldn’t see women as a separate category,” stated State Senator Mark Dion.
“As governor, I would do everything I can to make sure we aren’t rolling the clock back fifty years and to make sure that women have access to reproductive health care. We need a governor who is going to stand shoulder to shoulder with groups like Planned Parenthood,” former House Speaker Mark Eves.
“I support Planned Parenthood because of its extensive history of providing basic health care services to women and girls in Maine and elsewhere. I support it because it’s fair, nondiscriminatory, non judgemental, and provides comprehensive services,” stated Attorney General Janet Mills.
“I support Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood supports women. It supports women of multiple colors. It support women of multiple faiths. It supports people who have different sexual orientations than myself. It supports people who are transgender, and it creates a safe space where we can ask important questions about our health, ” stated former Representative Diane Russell.
“I will 100% uphold a women’s right to choose… I support Planned Parenthood because I want women to have access to safe, affordable, quality services, and I want it available all over the state, because it is a fundamental right for women. And, I will always be there to stand with Planned Parenthood,” stated Betsy Sweet.
Donna Dion received a 85% score on the candidate questionnaire.
None of the Republican candidates returned the questionnaire or responded to the invitation to visit the health center.
In 2010, Shawn Moody returned a Planned Parenthood candidate questionnaire in which he opposed increasing funding for family planning services, supported forced delays for health care, and wanted to restrict youth access to reproductive health care. More recently, he stated “Governors can, however, make important decisions which fall under state law. I will work to ensure no state taxpayer dollars are spent on abortion services.”
Representative Ken Fredette and State Senator Garrett Mason have legislative records consistent with restricting access to women’s health care and reproductive rights including votes to deny women coverage of birth control in their insurance and provide low-income people access to reproductive and sexual health care. Mary Mayhew has said she is “proud” of implementing a policy limiting funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides critical healthcare services to more than 11,500 patients a year, 74% of whom are people with low-incomes.