Maine's highest court reviews MaineCare abortion coverage ban

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Pro-life advocates went before the Maine Supreme Court Wednesday to discuss the state medicaid program's refusal to pay for most abortions.

Three abortion providers challenged that.

The American Civil Liberties Union says MaineCare restricts a woman's right to end a pregnancy.

They say by not paying for abortions, the state is violating a woman's constitutional right.

MaineCare only pays for abortions for women with extreme circumstances.

A lower court ruled in favor of the state three years ago.

The ACLU hopes the state's highest court overturns that.

"When somebody has the Constitutional right to exercise one of two decisions, and those are the only two decisions available, putting a thumb on the scale is an interference with that right and is a restriction on that right. So, this is plain discrimination under Maine Equal Protection Clause,” said Zachary Heiden of ACLU of Maine.

"The Superior Court correctly held that the regulation is valid. It was properly promulgated to achieve consistency and conformity with federal Medicaid funding restrictions contained at the Hyde amendment and the rule does not violate either Maine law or the Maine Constitution,” said Deputy Attorney General, Susan Herman.

The ACLU says the Hyde amendment bans federal funding for most abortions but there's no such ban on state dollars, so MaineCare should pay for them.

No time line has been given for the state Supreme Court to issue its decision.