The future of abortion access hangs in the balance for millions of women across the country.
Last week a draft opinion leak revealed that a majority of justices on the US Supreme Court support overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1976 ruling that legalized abortion access nationwide.
Naturally, this news sparked nation-wide protests and Maine was no exception. It is broadly understood that an ensuing decision from the Court affirming its draft opinion would make abortion access illegal at the federal level and leave states to enforce their own laws on the matter. So what would Roe’s reversal mean for Maine women?
The good news is that Governor Mills and our leaders in the state Legislature have taken numerous actions to bolster abortion rights for Maine women in recent years.
In 2019 Governor Mills and state lawmakers worked together to pass LD 820 – a bill designed to cover abortion services for MaineCare members. That legislation also frees up state funding for abortion services that are not covered by Medicaid.
In that same year, our leaders passed LD 1261, which allows a physician's assistant or an advanced practice RN to perform abortions.
Rep. Joyce McCreight of Harpswell sponsored another bill to enact a protest-free buffer zone within eight feet of medical facilities. That bill was eventually signed into law by Governor Mills to ensure Maine women seeking reproductive health care and other medical services are not intimidated by protesters.
Since her appointment in 2019, Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature have worked to build off abortion protections previously enshrined in state law.
As state law currently stands:
People in Maine have an affirmed right to choose to terminate a pregnancy pre-viability, which is protected even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Abortion after viability (about 24 weeks) is possible only if it’s to save the life and health of the mother, and can only be administered by a physician.
Minors seeking an abortion must have consent from an adult family member, except if sole consent is granted by a court. They must also undergo unbiased, non-coercive counseling about their options.
MaineCare and other insurance companies covering pregnancy must also cover abortion without additional restrictions or limitations.
In light of recent developments, at least one state lawmaker is considering a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee the right to an abortion.
Meanwhile, Governor Mills is standing by her continued commitment to protecting Maine women’s reproductive rights. In a recent statement, the Governor declared that, " as long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care in the face of every and any threat to it – whether from politicians in Augusta or Supreme Court Justices in Washington."
In the meantime, people across the state are taking a number of actions to protect Maine women’s right to choose. They include taking part in protests, urging lawmakers to support access to abortion, and donating to local abortion providers.
Mainers For Working Families applauds our leaders in Augusta for working to protect the right to abortion and other reproductive rights.