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"Pro-Life?" LePage's Anti-Naloxone Veto

Gov. Paul LePage continues to draw fire for last week's veto of a measure to make a lifesaving drug-overdose antidote available in Maine without a prescription. (Matt Gagnon/Wikipedia)
Gov. Paul LePage continues to draw fire for last week's veto of a measure to make a lifesaving drug-overdose antidote available in Maine without a prescription. (Matt Gagnon/Wikipedia)
April 26, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine - To save a life - or not? That's the question at the core of the debate brewing over the veto by Gov. Paul LePage of a bill that would provide easier access to a life-saving drug-overdose antidote.

Kenny Miller, executive director of the Health Equity Alliance and co-founder of the Maine Harm Reduction Alliance, said that last week's veto by the governor makes no sense - either in terms of helping Mainers survive addiction or the governor's pro-life stance.

"He's implying that people should just hurry up and die," Miller said. "People do recover, and there are many people who have recovered from opioid use disorders and gone on to live long, healthy, productive lives."

In his veto message last week, LePage said, "Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose."

Miller said that by his group's count, the Legislature had the votes needed to override a veto prior to the governor's remarks. He said lawmakers now are regrouping and haven't ruled out an override attempt later this week. It isn't only Democrats who are at odds with LePage on this issue, Miller said; some of the governor's fellow Republicans also are crying foul about a matter that is close to their hearts.

"So, you have a group of legislators who are largely pro-life, and this concept flies in the face of that stance," Miller said. "That seems to be what we are hearing from a lot of the Republican supporters as well, is that, 'I am pro-life and as such, I support this legislation.' "

According to the Portland Press, there were 272 overdose deaths in Maine in 2015, a 31 percent increase from the previous year.

The text of the bill is online at legislature.maine.gov.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME