There are so, so many things I could say about last week’s presidential debate (none of them good, obviously) but I want to write about something I haven’t seen many people talking about.
Early on in the scream fest, former Vice President Joe Biden brought up the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court and the importance of keeping Roe v. Wade from being overturned. Moderator Chris Wallace interjected before much more could be said and told the candidates Roe v. Wade would be discussed later in the night.
Well, due to the aforementioned screaming, we never got that far and reproductive rights were left out of the debate – something that seems to happen every time two candidates take the stage.
We need to talk about this, though, and we need to fight to protect access to abortion. If President Trump’s nominee is confirmed to the court, Roe v. Wade could very well be overturned and each state would be left to decide whether abortion is legal.
There are already a couple dozen abortion deserts in this country – places around big cities where people have to drive more than 100 miles to access abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, entire regions of the country could become abortion deserts, which would force some people to cross several state lines to receive a safe, legal abortion.
This doesn’t just affect whether someone has a baby or not; it affects their health and safety, their job, their mental health, their family and its resources, and more. A lot of people can’t afford to travel that far for an abortion and unfortunately, it will most affect people of color and poor people.
The Northeast, fortunately, doesn’t have any abortion deserts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care. And in Maine, I think we can do something about it. We need to vote Susan Collins out of the U.S. Senate.
Collins has proved that she values her political standing more than she values the right to safe, legal abortion. She did this when she ignored the pleas of thousands, maybe millions, of people, including Mainers, and voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court two years ago.
Mainers who have struggled to access safe abortion or who have been sexually assaulted like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask Collins to protect their rights and she betrayed them. She can’t be trusted not to do the same thing again with Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
That’s why we need to get her out and elect someone who will fight for reproductive rights, both here in Maine and nationwide. Sara Gideon and Lisa Savage have both promised to protect access to abortion, as well as to birth control, STI testing, and other family planning services. And because of ranked-choice voting, we can vote for both of them.
Last year, Gideon introduced a bill that eventually became Maine law that ensures abortion is covered by all insurance, including Medicare. This was a huge win and makes it so much easier for people with low incomes to get the care they deserve.
Gideon also sponsored a bill last year that made it legal for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians to provide abortions. Previously Maine only allowed doctors to perform abortions, even though APCs are more than qualified and already were performing more complicated procedures. Now Mainers can access abortion in their own communities instead of having to drive to Portland, Augusta, or Bangor.
I trust both Gideon and Savage to fight to protect and expand reproductive rights for our country. I cannot say the same for Collins. If you care at all about this and want to protect yourself and the people in your life, I urge you to join me in voting to remove Collins.
Kate Gardner is a Portland-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, SELF, and Bustle. You can follow her on Twitter @katevgardner.