Maine: A Safe Haven

Amid all of the chaos and controversy surrounding the topic of abortion, Maine is making strides to protect those seeking abortions. “The decision to have an abortion is deeply personal… Fundamentally, these are decisions that should be made by a woman and her medical provider,” Governor Janet Mills said in an announcement with Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross. 

These three lawmakers presented these bills as a way to balance the anti-abortion powers that caused the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The landmark decision, which was reversed seven months ago, legalized abortions, and was in place for almost 50 years. Since Roe v. Wade was rescinded, state laws have changed astronomically. Twenty-four states have already or are making efforts to ban abortion. 

Mills and other legislators reported that since states began banning abortions, one in three women has lost access to safe, legal forms of this procedure. This statement accompanied the announcement of their intention to expand access to abortion in Maine. 

Mills supported her argument for expanded abortion laws by sharing the story of a Yarmouth resident, Dana Pierce. Pierce was told thirty-two weeks into her pregnancy that her child had a rare form of skeletal dysplasia, a genetic mutation which would have stopped her child’s ability to breathe. At thirty-two weeks pregnant, Pierce was not able to get an abortion in the state, and was forced to travel to Colorado to have the procedure. Colorado has no gestational limits on abortions, and resides in this category with five other states. “[F]undamentally, no one in Maine should have to leave our state or leave the support of family and friends and potentially have to spend thousands just to access the care they need,” Mills said. Pierce had to leave behind her young daughter in order to get the procedure recommended to her by her healthcare provider. “This was a really sad thing to happen. [My husband and I] did our best. I’m doing my best now to change it for other people,” Pierce said.

The Office of the Attorney General states that current state law allows for abortions up to “24-28 weeks, as determined on a case-by-case basis by your healthcare provider.” Mills is attempting to change these laws to allow abortion after 24 weeks and possibly up to birth, with the approval of a doctor. 

In state statistics from 2021, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention documents that over 70% of abortions occurred before nine weeks, while 90% were conducted by the twelfth week of pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control also reports that no abortions were performed beyond nineteen weeks. 

These motions are being proposed by Democrats, whereas Republicans are leaning the opposite way. The propositions, brought forth by the Democratic lawmakers, were quickly met with disapproval. Republicans believe that these advancements are too extensive and even propose that government officials should be turning their attention to different issues, such as affordable housing and inflation. A statement by House Republicans states,“This runs counter to wide support for current Maine law that restricts abortions after fetal viability. Despite statements suggesting Republicans would seek to change Maine’s abortion law, it is now Governor Mills who is looking to make Maine’s the most extreme in the country.”

As with abortion laws nation-wide, the consensus on these regulations will be near impossible to reach. In an interview conducted by Maine Public, policy director for the anti-abortion group the Christian Civic League of Maine, Mike McClellan said, “I wish we weren’t so polar because I think both sides want to help everybody, but as always in politics it’s how you get there.” According to the Maine House of Representatives, the house is currently left leaning, with eighty-two Democrats, sixty-seven Republicans, and two Independents. 

As these bans come about, blue states are stepping up to the plate to serve as places of refuge for those seeking abortions. The efforts of Mills and other Democratic lawmakers to ensure the availability of safe, legal abortions puts Maine on this roster of states that are safe havens for those seeking these procedures.

Categories: Politics, State Politics

1 reply »

  1. This was an informative piece; I didn’t know about these current restrictions in Maine. I wonder what progress has been made?


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