Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Democratic lawmakers, and abortion advocates announced Tuesday that they will seek fundamental changes to Maine’s abortion laws, including a proposal to legalize abortion at anytime in a pregnancy so long as a medical professional approves.
Mills will support the drastic expansion of abortion in Maine despite stating multiple times during her recent gubernatorial campaign against former Republican Gov. Paul LePage that she would not support any changes to Maine’s abortion laws.
In a joint statement and during a press conference, Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), and House Speaker Rachel Ross (D-Portland) all said they would join forces to support the abortion proposals. The push for expanded abortion and easier abortions will include as many as four separate bills.
During the Oct. 4, 2022 debate with LePage, Mills was asked whether she would support changing Maine’s viability law.
“No, I support the current Maine law,” she said.
In other debates, she took a similar tack, stating repeatedly that she would not support changes to Maine’s abortion laws.
Mills’ flipflop on abortion policy may be abrupt, but she’s not the only high profile Maine Democrat to take a 180 degree turn on the right to life.
As recently as 2011, Jackson received a 100 percent rating from the Maine Right to Life Committee for his voting record in the Legislature. But as the Democratic Party – in Maine and nationally – became not just “pro-choice” but stridently pro-abortion over the last decade, Jackson changed his views. By 2018, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, had given him a 100 percent approval rating.
“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in support of a slate of legislation to strengthen reproductive health care laws and defend Mainers’ rights,” Jackson said Tuesday.
The new Democratic abortion policies will include a bill that would prevent municipal governments from curtailing abortion, a proposal to limit health care co-payment costs for would-be mothers who seek abortions, and a bill to give immunity to abortionists if they perform the procedure on women from states other than Maine.
Republican lawmakers quickly issued statements calling the changes to Maine’s abortion laws extreme.
“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,” House Republican lawmakers said in a statement.
Mike McClellan, policy director for the Christian Civic League of Maine, said pro-life Mainers and abortion supporters are living in different realities.
“As they spoke about safety and healthcare, I thought about how abortion clinics are exempt from safety and health inspections,” said McClellan.
“We’re further apart than I thought,” he said.
If passed, the proposal would be the most significant change to Maine’s abortion laws since the Reproductive Privacy Act was enacted in 1993.
Currently, Maine’s abortion law states: “It is the public policy of the State that the State not restrict a woman’s exercise of her private decision to terminate a pregnancy before viability” except in a few exceptions.
After viability, an abortion may be performed only when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
Maine already uses taxpayer money to cover the cost of abortions under MaineCare, the state’s implementation of Medicaid.
The total number of abortions performed in Maine has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years, according to the available data.
In 2021, the most recent year for which public data on abortions in Maine are available, Maine abortionists performed a total of 1915 procedures.
Of those, 1,727 were carried out in the first trimester of the pregnancy, while 188 were carried out in the second trimester, between 12 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
Seven abortions were performed on girls between the ages of 10 and 14, and 106 were performed on girls ages 15 to 18. Women in their 20s made up more than half of all abortions performed in Maine that year.
Although recent census data shows that Maine is more than 94 percent white, white woman only account for 84.2 percent of abortions. Only 1.8 percent of Mainers are black, but black women accounted for a little more than nine percent of abortions.
Slightly more than three in four women who sought abortions in Maine were unmarried, while 297 married women underwent the procedure.
According to the data, 92 women from New Hampshire and 15 women from Massachusetts, had abortions in Maine.
The most common abortion procedure in 2021 year was the non-surgical medical abortion.
The second most popular method was suction curettage. Suction curettage involves inserting a plastic tube that is about the size of a pencil through the cervix into the uterus to remove what abortion advocates call “pregnancy tissue.”
A procedure described as “dilation and evacuation” accounted for another 84 abortions. That procedure is typically used after 13 weeks gestation. To perform that procedure, an abortionist will dilate a women’s cervix and removing the fetus and placenta using forceps or other instruments.
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