LePage expresses support for abortion restrictions, opposition to raising wages

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage declared his support for restrictions on abortion and opposition to raising the minimum wage and furthering the transition to renewable energy, among other controversial stances, in his responses to a recent questionnaire from the Christian Education League of Maine.

The questionnaire by the group, which is affiliated with the Christian Civic League of Maine, once again demonstrates LePage’s position on an issue that has garnered national attention after the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion rights in June. During his campaign against incumbent Gov. Janet Mills, a supporter of abortion, the former Republican governor has sought to downplay the issue, despite a long history of opposing reproductive health rights. 

LePage’s stance on abortion is out-of-step with Maine voters, as a strong majority believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. It does align him with the Christian Civic League, however, which has long opposed abortion rights. 

In a news release, the Maine Democratic Party expressed concern about LePage’s stance on abortion. 

“If re-elected, the question is not whether he’ll try to restrict access to abortion — it’s how far he will go,” said chairperson Drew Gattine. “We can’t give LePage another chance to take away the freedoms that Mainers hold dear.”

Along with LePage, many Republicans in Maine have shown themselves to be hostile to reproductive health rights, as GOP members of the state legislature introduced an unprecedented number of anti-abortion bills during the 2021 legislative session. 

In the Christian Civic League survey, LePage also expressed opposition to raising the minimum wage, which increased to $12.75 an hour at the beginning of 2022 as a result of a 2016 referendum passed by voters that tied the wage to the cost of living. That referendum was supported by 55.5% of Maine voters and was vehemently opposed by LePage, who was governor at the time. 

At the federal level, the minimum wage was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 an hour. 

In the questionnaire, LePage also said he wouldn’t prioritize shifting Maine to 80% renewable energy by 2030, a reference to a 2019 bill signed by Mills that put that policy into statute. 

This isn’t the first time LePage has opposed environmental initiatives. LePage has questioned how much impact humans are having on climate change, argued the earth’s warming could be good for Maine, and vetoed multiple environmental reform bills. 

Experts say the world must act swiftly to address the climate crisis. Unchecked, emissions could lead to warming of 10 degrees by 2100 in Maine, which would have a catastrophic result.   

The Christian Civic League, which has waged a long fight against LGBTQ rights, asked questions related to gender and sexuality as well. In answering one such question, LePage stated that he opposes requiring women’s shelters to house transgender women. A bill allowing for discrimination against trans women by women’s shelters in Maine was defeated in the legislature last year amid opposition from many advocates, who said the measure would have essentially legalized discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  

LePage also weighed in on vaccines, stating in the survey that immunization mandates should have religious or philosophical exemptions. That view again puts him in the minority within Maine, as 72.8% of voters opposed a 2020 referendum seeking to reinstate such exemptions in the state. 

LePage also opposed Mills’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers, a policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

On another issue, public funding for religious schools, the high court came down on LePage’s side. In the Christian Civic League questionnaire, LePage said he supports allowing public funds for such schools. The Supreme Court struck down Maine’s ban on the practice in June. 

That ruling was criticized by Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, who said if religious schools accept public funds, they must also follow the Maine Human Rights Act and would have to accept LGBTQ students and teachers. 

Photo: Former Gov. Paul LePage signs a Trump hat at a 2020 rally featuring former Vice President Mike Pence | Maine GOP via Facebook

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