Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed LD 1619 into law this morning, officially expanding access to late-term abortion in Maine. Consequently, Maine now has one of the nation’s least restrictive abortion policies.
The new law allows women to abort their baby “after viability” if it is deemed “necessary in the professional judgment of a physician.”
Previously, Maine law prohibited abortion after the point of viability except in cases where the life or health of the mother was in jeopardy.
July 19th Signing Ceremony
At this morning’s signing ceremony, Gov. Mills stated “this bill has been the product of a great deal of collaboration among many people in the legislature and outside the legislature.”
“In the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned, more than a dozen states have enacted extreme bans on abortion. As a result, in America today, nearly one-third of all American women no longer have access to abortion,” Mills said.
“It’s easy to believe that these attacks on reproductive rights only exist beyond our state’s borders, that here in Maine these rights are safe and protected. But this session alone, this legislative session alone, Republican lawmakers in Maine introduced bills to restrict reproductive by enforcing ultrasounds, by mandating biased counseling, by taking away insurance coverage for low-income people especially, and by restricting access to abortion for rural women,” Mills said.
Among the bills likely being referenced by Mills in these comments are:
- LD 494: An Act to Conform State Funding to the Federal Hyde Amendment, Limiting Funding for Some Abortion Services
- LD 1294: An Act to Protect the Quality of Care Provided via Telehealth by Prohibiting Physicians from Prescribing Abortion-inducing Drugs or Devices Through Telehealth or Other Electronic Communication
- LD 1614: An Act to Require an Ultrasound and Certain Counseling Before an Abortion
“We, this year, have turned back these attempts to undermine reproductive rights in Maine, and instead, we have preserved and expanded reproductive freedom in Maine,” Mills said, referring to the passage of LD 1619.
“By signing LD 1619, ‘An Act to Improve Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Laws,’ we are affirming that Maine people, guided by their medical professionals, their families, their personal and spiritual beliefs, that they will make decisions about their reproductive health care,” she said.
“Current Maine law allows for abortion later in pregnancy only to preserve the life or health of the mother, but this standard – that we are about to change – fails to address the varied and very difficult circumstances faced by some women in their pregnancies,” Mills stated.
“Opponents have called this bill extreme quote, gruesome quote, depraved, barbaric, or even quote evil. But what is extreme is forcing a woman to become dangerously ill from a pregnancy in order to seek abortion care. What is extreme is forcing a woman to give birth to a child that is going to immediately die. What is extreme is forcing a woman to leave her state to seek care. What is extreme is what’s going on in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Texas, and other states where abortion is virtually banned by the same radical forces that are calling this bill extreme or radical,” Mills argued.
“It is a reasonable, limited, and compassionate response to the failings of current law and their impact on Maine women,” Mills said.
Currently, only six other states – including Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont – and Washington, D.C. have similar laws on books allowing doctors, without restriction, to authorize abortions at any point during a pregnancy.
Mills’ Shifting Stance on Abortion
Mills’ strong backing of LD 1619 represents a reversal of the abortion stance upon which she campaigned in 2022.
Although her support for abortion in general was never in doubt, she made clear during her campaign that as governor she would not attempt to alter Maine’s existing abortion regulation, which prohibited abortion after approximately 28 weeks except under explicitly-defined circumstances.
“I have no plans to change the current law,” Mills stated emphatically during the October 2022 gubernatorial debate.
According to the administration, Mills shifted her position regarding Maine’s abortion laws after hearing the story of Yarmouth resident Dana Pierce, who spent $40,000 to receive an abortion in Colorado after being blocked from pursuing one in Maine. Pierce was seeking an abortion because her baby had been diagnosed with a rare and fatal abnormality.
Pierce spoke at this morning’s signing ceremony, as did representatives of the Maine Medical Association and the Maine Council of Churches.
Mills’ Plans for Other Abortion-Related Legislation
In a statement released after this morning’s ceremony, Mills announced that she soon plans to sign into law a series of other abortion-related bills.
Included among these bills are:
- LD 263: An Act to Ensure Access to Family Planning Services
- LD 616: An Act to Protect Health Care Professionals Providing Reproductive Health Care Services
- LD 935: An Act to Remove Barriers to Abortion Coverage in Private Insurance
- LD 1343: An Act to Protect the Reproductive Freedom of Maine People by Preempting the Field of Abortion Regulation
LD 263 and LD 935 are both focused on addressing insurance coverage for abortions, as well as other services related to reproductive health.
LD 616 is aimed at blocking the possibility that legal action could be taken against providers in Maine for performing abortions on women traveling from out of state.
LD 1343 prevents municipalities from adopting ordinances that may conflict with state-level abortion laws.
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