Sen. Susan Collins has a long-standing reputation as steadfastly supporting a woman’s right to choose. Is she willing to fight to defend that right for adults with disabilities? While it is unclear where Judge Brett Kavanaugh stands on Roe v. Wade, we know that he, as part of a three-judge panel in 2007, overturned a lower court decision blocking Washington, D.C., disability services officials from authorizing elective medical procedures, including abortions, for adults with intellectual disabilities without their consent.
In Doe ex. rel. Tarlow v. D.C., Kavanaugh silenced the voices of these vulnerable adults with disabilities under the guardianship of the District of Columbia and thus stripped them of their humanity. This harkens back to the days of Maine’s Pineland Institute and the era of forced sterilization. Guardianship grants the state control over a person; it does not require it to exercise that control with cruelty and disregard.
My daughter, Lidia, has intellectual disabilities and epilepsy, a result of the rare genetic disorder Dup15q. I am terrified at the thought of a Supreme Court justice who would give states the right to decide that her body is not her own.
Pineland closed the year my daughter was born. We continue to make strides toward recognizing people with disabilities as the complete human beings they are, but in many ways, society still forces them into silence and invisibility.
If Collins truly supports freedom of choice for all women, she must protect women with disabilities, and vote against Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh a threat to Roe
The significance of Roe v. Wade cannot be overstated. It recognized that government should not interfere with decisions about pregnancies; it has allowed women to take control of their lives. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh threatens to destroy this 45-year-old decision. His agreement that it is “ settled law” does not mean he will truly uphold it; he may vote on cases that substantially erode it.
I have witnessed both personally and professionally the impact of Roe v. Wade. As a college student in the 1960s, I knew several young women who aborted their pregnancies, frantic because at that time it was illegal. All were concerned about continuing their education and pursuing careers. I knew married women who obtained illegal abortions because they knew they could not be good parents to more children or were economically insecure.
As a social worker in an adoption department, I counseled young women desperate for abortions. I could only imagine the fears, anger and anguish of those who need an abortion for their own health or because of a heartbreaking fetal diagnosis.
People will always seek abortions for multiple personal and family reasons. The reality is that abortions will happen whether they are legal or not, so they should remain accessible, legal and safe.
I hope Sen. Susan Collins recognizes with compassion and realism why Roe v. Wade continues to be essential to the health and well-being of women and their families, and that she will not vote to confirm any Supreme Court nominee who would not uphold this crucial decision.
Don’t change development rules
I’m dismayed by the very confusing and seemingly arbitrary proposal from the Land Use Planning Commission to roll back the “one-mile rule” currently protecting the Maine North Woods from sprawling development. This new proposal — to allow sprawl 10 miles from boundaries of communities — goes against every guiding principle of responsible development.
The proposal also ignores the jeopardy of fragmented development adjacent to our pristine lakes and waterways, which are a huge attraction not only to Maine’s residents and wildlife, but also to the tourists so important to Maine’s economy. The commission’s proposal will forever change the Maine woods and waters that are such a significant part of Maine’s history and its future.
This proposal may serve developers, but there is very little financial impetus for the state of Maine to pursue this. Not only that, the proposal provides a roadmap for potentially abusive development in areas of our state adjacent to conserved land.
The commission’s proposal is too complex to be foisted on Maine property owners without months — if not years — of a multitude of public meetings and hearings throughout Maine. The Unorganized Territory must not be the sole audience for the commission’s presentation of this proposal, because the repercussions of this proposal will damage the entire state.
I urge the commission to continue with the current and sensible one-mile policy.
King no independent
I was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for president two years ago, and am equally enthusiastic about Democratic nominee Zak Ringelstein’s quest to unseat Sen. Angus King. The No. 1 issue for Ringelstein is to get money out of politics, and he walks the talk — taking no money from corporations, lobbyists, or PACs. He supports Medicare for all, women’s equality, the rights of people of color and all gender identities, investment in education, renewable energy, the fight against climate change, and much more. If you liked Sanders, you’ll love Ringelstein.
King, by contrast, has voted for most of President Donald Trump’s nominees ( Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke, Mike Pompeo, to name a few). He “caucuses with Democrats,” but he voted for an extension of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program (spying on Americans), more deregulation of banks (essentially eviscerating Dodd-Frank), and the recent massive increase in the military budget. He takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from the finance and real estate industries, lobbyists, and from the military-corporate complex. And in 2014, he endorsed Sen. Susan Collins over Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows. Is that what you want in an independent?
If you’re concerned Ringelstein may be a “spoiler” in this race and Republican Eric Brakey might win, don’t be: this is a ranked-choice voting election, so there’s no “splitting of the vote.” For me, Ringelstein is No. 1 and King a distant No. 2, if anything at all.