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Political Brew: Debate over the Nation's debt ceiling, and concerns with Mills' abortion bill

This week's analysts are Democratic activist Betsy Sweet, former state senator, and Yarmouth town councilor Phil Harriman.

MAINE, USA — This proposal has drawn criticism from both Legislative Republicans and the Catholic Diocese of Maine, which termed the plan extreme.

The proposal by Gov. Janet Mills to change Maine’s longstanding abortion law to allow certain late-term abortions was the major source of disagreement between Political Brew analysts Phil Harriman and Betsy Sweet. Mills has announced she will introduce legislation that would change Maine’s current abortion law, which allows abortions only before the fetus is considered viable and permit abortions later in pregnancy with the approval of a medical provider.

Democrat Betsy Sweet defended the proposal, saying abortion decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor and not by politicians.

“The people who have abortions late in pregnancy are making decisions very rare but making decisions that are awful (difficult). So this should really be between the doctor and the patient. 70 to 80 percent of Mainers, of all political stripes, support the right for a woman to choose abortion.”

Republican Harriman said Mills was using political capital earned from her election win and argued she was changing what she had said during the campaign.

“During the campaign, the Governor made it clear she wasn’t going to change existing law and would protect the existing viability definition. So I think she is expending political capital”.

Harriman called it “a very sensitive and important issue” and added that he hopes lawmakers will carefully define what medical professionals should be making the decisions and how.

There was a seminar on the issue of making changes to Maine’s child protective system, as Republicans in the Legislature hope to do. GOP leaders want to take the Office of Child and Family Services out of Maine DHHS and make it a separate state agency.

Harriman said the problem needs more attention than just a bureaucratic change.

“Changing the bureaucratic organizational chart isn’t going to change the outcomes for these children. How we implement it is the most important question for getting results.”

Sweet agreed.

“There are clearly problems in the system. We need to get to the bottom of that. But we have to go backward, too, because tHis, not just the point where someone is endangered and could be murdered. We have to go back to all the supports in place to keep kids healthy, and sadly many Republicans have been on the wrong side of those issues for the last ten years”.

Both Harriman and Sweet agreed Congress and the President need to quickly resolve the issue of raising the government debt ceiling, saying delays in that action could cause major harm to the American economy.

“For right now, using this as a political chip is all about McCarthy and what he promised to the people who finally elected him, so to play games with this is dangerous,” said Sweet.”

Harriman, a financial consultant, said the sides should raise the debt limit now and agree to change the budget decision process for the future.

“For us to default today on that obligation is in no one’s best interest. Republicans need to use the opportunity today to draw the line and say that, in the future, there will be no more omnibus budget bills. We will have hearings, see who votes up and down for spending levels.”

Political Brew airs Sunday on NEWS CENTER Maine’s Weekend Morning Report.

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