Maine Gov. Janet Mills is rallying the State Legislature to pass an abortion bill that would eliminate almost all restrictions on abortion in Maine, making Maine one of the most pro-abortion jurisdictions in the world.
If passed, the proposal Mills has backed would allow full-term abortions — that is, abortions right up to the moment before a baby is born — so long as a physician, physician assistant, or an advanced registered nurse approves.
The legislative push is a direct contradiction to her position during the campaign. During the campaign, Mills said multiple times she wanted no changes to Maine’s abortion laws.
For example, during the Oct. 4, 2022 debate with LePage, Mills was asked whether she would support changing Maine’s abortion law.
“No, I support the current Maine law,” said Mills.
Mills first announced her abortion flip-flop in January at a press conference that included many Democratic lawmakers, as well as Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland).
At the time, several abortion-related proposals were floating around the State House.
But now, pro-abortion elected officials have coalesced around LD 1619.
The bill would remove the “viability” threshold that has restricted abortion in Maine to the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy, with a few exceptions, since 1993. Under current law, abortions after that period of time may only occur when the life or health of the mother is in danger.
If LD 1619 passes, abortion clinics will be allowed to terminate pregnancies up to the day the baby is born if a qualified medical professional approves. The bill would allow certain registered nurses and physician assistants to perform abortions as well.
The bill would place Maine at the extreme end of the spectrum of abortion policies, both in the U.S. and among countries of the West.
In France, for example, abortion is limited in most cases to the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy.
Abortions are allowed after that point if two physicians certify that it will prevent harm to the mother.
Norway bans elective abortions after the point of viability, as does Sweden.
Similarly, California and New York both limit abortions to the point of viability, though both states offer exceptions for when a physician judges that the health or life of the mother is in jeopardy.
LD 1619 would require certification from only a single physician or advanced registered nurse.
In practice, that would make abortion legal in Maine up until moments before birth for any reason.
Assistant Minority Leader Amy Arata (R-New Gloucester) said she was surprised to learn the details of Mills’ proposed abortion law. She said she originally thought the reform would be narrowly targeted to issues involving the suffering of unborn babies, as was the case with a high-profile case Mills has regularly cited in her public communications about abortion.
In that case, a woman said she was forced to travel to Colorado in order to obtain an abortion that she said was necessary to end the suffering of her unborn child, whom doctors said was not expected to live long after birth due to a medical condition.
“No Republican has ever advocated against abortion in the case of the life of the mother,” Arata said. “We’ve been willing to discuss the cases of a fatal fetal diagnosis, always.”
“If this passes, babies will be able to be aborted at any time — up to birth — for any reason that’s deemed necessary, whatever that means,” she said.
In an email press release Tuesday, Mills said a “broad coalition” had endorsed the legislation, including more than 90 Democratic state lawmakers.
But Republicans cast the push for full-term abortions as a radical move that is out of step with the abortion rules favored by a majority of Mainers.
“The facts are, the large majority of Mainers support reasonable limits on abortion,” said Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn).
“This bill takes those reasonable limits and it just throws them out the window,” she said.
Libby said both pro-life and pro-abortion Mainers find common ground around opposition to late-term abortions.
“This bill gives the word ‘extreme’ new meaning,” she said.
The coalition Mills touted includes representatives of the abortion industry who stand to see increased revenues from higher rates of abortion in Maine, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Maine Family Planning.
In recent years, both of these nonprofit organizations have taken in between $12 million and $14 million annually, according to tax documents.
Maine Family Planning, also known as the Family Planning Association of Maine, Inc., connects pregnant mothers with more than 42 abortion providers in Maine and directly operates 18 abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England operates several abortion clinics, mostly in southern Maine.
“Maine Family Planning looks forward to working with the Governor and legislative leaders on getting these important updates to the Reproductive Privacy Act passed this session,” said Maine Family Planning CEO Greg Hill.
In 2020, Hill made more than $200,000 running the abortion services provider.
The nonprofit also received more than $3.8 million in government grants that year.
In Maine, abortion providers may also receive taxpayer funding through Medicaid, known in Maine as MaineCare.
At the same time Mills and Democratic lawmakers are seeking to expand abortion in Maine, some lawmakers are looking to crack down on pro-life health care providers in the state.
Rep. Lori Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach) has submitted a bill that would empower the Attorney General’s office to police the speech of pro-life pregnancy centers to ensure that the facilities aren’t tricking women into becoming moms rather than getting abortions.
“An Act to Prohibit Deceptive Advertising in Limited Pregnancy Services Centers” (LD 1137) would create an online portal for anyone to submit evidence that a pregnancy center was behaving deceptively to the Attorney General’s office.
In 2021, the most recent year for which public data on abortions in Maine are available, Maine abortionists performed a total of 1915 procedures.