Maine’s State Senate on Tuesday blocked a proposed amendment that would have put a four-year moratorium on the trafficking of fetal remains leftover from late-term abortions.
The proposed floor amendment from Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) followed approval by the Senate of Gov. Janet Mills’ controversial proposal to eliminate restrictions on late-term abortions in Maine.
By a vote of 23-11, the Senate voted in favor of Sen. Mattie Daughtry’s (D-Cumberland) motion to indefinitely postpone consideration of the amendment, effectively killing the proposed moratorium.
If Gov. Mills’ late-term abortion bill becomes law, as now seems certain, elective late-term abortions on healthy babies will be allowed for the first time in Maine, raising a question currently unaddressed by Maine’s laws: What happens to the viable baby after an abortion clinic has ended his or her life and induced a stillbirth?
“If this legislation to legalize abortion up to the point of birth is to go into law, the least we can do is to establish this moratorium on the trafficking of fetal body parts so that the legislature can thoughtfully consider this issue in the coming years and develop more permanent policy,” said Sen. Brakey.
Brakey’s amendment would have prevented the sale or transfer of aborted late-term baby tissue to any entity for purposes other than burial or cremation for four years.
Trafficking in fetal remains would have been a Class C crime under the proposal.
In 2021, Maine’s Legislature rejected a similar bill that would have given mothers certain rights over the disposition of fetal remains. That bill would also have prevented most forms of scientific research on the remains.
LD 1619 does not contain any regulations or restrictions on how the byproducts of late-term abortions — that is, dead baby parts — are to be disposed of.
Every Democratic senator supported the motion to kill Brakey’s amendment, as did Sen. Rick Bennett (R-Oxford), though he opposed the broader bill.
Abortion advocates have long dismissed the connection between late-term abortion clinics and fetal tissue research.
However, fetal remains have been a sought-after source of tissue for medical research, including STEM cell research.
Brakey said he was concerned that Maine’s legalization of late-term abortion would potentially create a marketplace for aborted fetal tissue.
Ethical considerations notwithstanding, the tissue is a valuable material for biomedical researchers at universities and for profit companies.
Undercover journalists with the Center for Medical Progress have catalogued hours of undercover footage of abortion clinic employees talking about the lucrative nexus between abortion providers and medical researchers.
But closer to home, a top advocate of LD 1619 has personal experience with late-term abortions that ended up supplying tissue to researchers.
Dr. Shannon Carr, a Maine-based OB/GYN who was tapped this year as a top late-term abortion expert by Maine Democrats and Gov. Mills, worked at a clinic in New Mexico that supplied fetal tissue for research.
Her former employer, Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, N.M., was a top supplier of fetal tissue for the University of New Mexico until an investigation found researchers had improperly supplied those samples to at least one private research facility.
That investigation just happened to come after Dr. Carr authorized and participated in a late-term abortion that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Keisha Atkins.
Information gleaned from that lawsuit, including from Carr’s deposition, spurred further scrutiny of the abortion clinic’s relationship with the university, which may have prompted changes to UNM’s fetal tissue research policies in later years.
“Changing the acceptance requirements for donated fetal tissue will align our research policies with our pregnancy termination practices,” said Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, Chancellor for Health Sciences, in a statement.
By the time that policy changed, Carr had relocated to Maine, where she currently works as an abortion services provider.