CONTRIBUTORS

Don’t let LePage continue to deny health care to women; Michaud is the leader Maine needs

Nicole Clegg, chairwoman of Planned Parenthood Maine's Action Fund PAC, announces the organization's endorsement of Mike Michaud for governor at an event in Portland on June 16.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Nicole Clegg, chairwoman of Planned Parenthood Maine's Action Fund PAC, announces the organization's endorsement of Mike Michaud for governor at an event in Portland on June 16. Buy Photo
Posted June 23, 2014, at 11:11 a.m.

Four years ago, tea party politicians picked up key seats across the country and here in Maine. Since then, we’ve seen an unprecedented assault chipping away at women’s access to health care.

Politicians campaigned with the promise of creating jobs and boosting our economy. Instead, they became focused on inserting themselves in the personal, private decisions women make about their health and their pregnancies.

Since 2010, more than 200 restrictions on abortion access have become law — 70 of these new restrictions were passed in 2013 alone. There have been more attacks on reproductive freedoms in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. Think Maine is immune?

Gov. Paul LePage has aggressively sought to deny health coverage for Maine people by vetoing a bill five different times to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid for up to 70,000 uninsured people. He also vetoed the bipartisan Women’s Health Initiative, denying essential preventive health services that include lifesaving cancer screenings and access to birth control to more than 13,000 low-income Maine women, which the Office of Fiscal and Policy Review estimated would save Maine taxpayers more than $3 million annually once fully implemented.

Under his administration, funding for women’s health care and family planning has declined by more than 40 percent, forcing health centers to close or reduce hours. LePage’s views on whether a woman should be able to make personal, private decisions about her pregnancy are clear. He has been described by the Kennebec Journal as “staunchly anti-abortion,” indicating that, as an elected official, he is perfectly fine with interfering in personal, private medical decisions that should be left between a woman and her doctor.

His views on women’s health are out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Mainers, and we can’t afford to let him continue to roll back the clock on women’s health. More importantly, Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund Political Action Committee cannot afford to sit on the sidelines this election — the stakes are just too high for Maine women.

At the end of the day, the only way to stop dangerous laws from passing — and to protect women’s health — is to change who is making the decisions and elect Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, as our next governor.

Michaud was selected as the best candidate for governor after a thorough candidate review and endorsement process. We evaluated the candidates’ positions, promises and capacity to implement them, and we determined the candidate who has a proven record of expanding access to women’s health care, as well as the demonstrated qualities to be an effective leader in Augusta, is Michaud.

He has shown that actions speak louder than words. Mike has earned a 92 percent rating in Congress from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. He voted to protect access to preventive care in health care reform; defended women’s access to abortion in the Affordable Care Act health care exchanges by opposing the Pitts Amendment and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and he defended Planned Parenthood against legislative attacks. He is proof that politicians with courage can grow and change their views on critical issues, such as abortion rights.

Michaud’s experience in the Maine Legislature and Congress demonstrates a proven record of effective lawmaking. He understands the political process and how to work with lawmakers from all parties and points of view. He is the kind of partner we value in Congress and want in the Blaine House. He has turned to us and other women’s health leaders seeking information and insight into complex and complicated issues. Over the past 10 years, we have built a strong relationship together, one grounded in mutual respect and trust.

Afterfour years of LePage, we need a leader who listens and can work respectfully with others. We need a governor whose toolkit isn’t stuffed with threats, bullying and a veto stamp. Michaud is that leader. He is a thoughtful and caring person who doesn’t sacrifice strength and toughness, and he is never afraid to fight for the issues that matter to Maine women and families.

Finally, we believe Michaud can bring Mainers together. The strength of Michaud’s campaign is demonstrated almost daily. Rather than take a divisive and hostile posture — the “it’s my way or the highway” attitude — Michaud is bringing people together who share his values and belief in the promise of Maine. We share those values too, and we will work hard to see him elected as our next governor. Michaud is the leader Maine needs.

Nicole Clegg chairs the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund Political Action Committee.

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