Portland activist takes first step toward putting abortion consent measure on ballot

Posted March 12, 2013, at 7:09 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Portland man who directed a political action committee opposing last year’s successful same-sex marriage ballot measure has filed initial paperwork with the secretary of state’s office that would allow him to start collecting signatures to force a statewide vote on a proposal to require parental consent for minors seeking abortions.

Erick Bennett submitted an application for a citizen’s initiative Tuesday to the secretary of state’s office, said Deputy Secretary of State Barbara Redmond. Election officials now have to certify that the five signatures submitted belong to Maine registered voters, she said.

Bennett needs to collect more than 57,000 signatures in 18 months to put the matter before lawmakers. If he succeeds, the matter would first go before the Legislature. If lawmakers don’t approve it, the ballot question would go before voters.

In a statement, Bennett said his campaign isn’t about restricting abortion rights. Instead, he said, it’s about “empowering parents to be involved in the most difficult decisions that their child will ever have to face.”

Maine is one of 13 states that require no parental involvement in abortion decisions, according to Planned Parenthood.

The political action committee Bennett directed last year opposing the same-sex marriage ballot measure raised $240 in cash and in-kind contributions for its efforts during the campaign season.

If Bennett’s ballot measure is certified by the secretary of state’s office, it would be one of four measures for which proponents are allowed to circulate petitions. The others are “An Act Authorizing Two Maine Indian Tribes To Conduct Electronic High-Stakes Beano,” “An Act To Increase Investment in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” and “An Act To Create Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Persons Convicted Of Certain Sex Offenses Against Victims Under 12 Years Of Age.”

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