Gov. Janet Mills introduces bill to expand abortion rights in Maine

Maine State House
Maine State House
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 3:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA Maine (WMTW) - Maine Democratic Governor Janet Mills has formally introduced a bill to expand reproductive rights for women and access to abortion services in the state, allowing for abortions later in pregnancy beyond the point of fetal viability.

The bill, LD 1619, sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and Senate President Troy Jackson, appears guaranteed of passsage, as a majority of House members and Senate members are listed as co-sponsors.

Mills, Talbot Ross, and Jackson first announced plans for the legislation back in January.

Among other things, it would update Maine’s three-decade old Reproductive Privacy Act, which allows abortions after viability, generally considered 24 weeks into a pregnancy, only when it is necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

Instead, the bill would set a new standard, allowing an abortion after the fetus has reached viability, if and when a licensed physician determines it is necessary.

The bill would remove criminal penalties for performing an abortion after fetal viability or without being licensed as a physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse

The bill would also amend the reporting of abortions to the state government to exclude any information that would identify the patient. The reporting would likely contain the age of the patient, the date and place of the abortion, the method used, and the gestational age of the fetus.

The Mills bill is supported by the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Council of Churches, the ACLU of Maine, the Maine Women’s Lobby. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund.

Maine Medical Association President Erik Steele said in a written statement released by the governor’s office: “The reasons why people seek abortions are complex. All medical care, including the very personal and private decision of abortion, is best determined in an office by patients and trusted health care providers focused on consensus, evidence-based medical decision-making.”

Jane Field, Executive Director of the Maine Council of Churches, said in a written statement released by the governor’s office: “Like the majority of Christians across the United States, the Maine Council of Churches believes abortion should be safe and legal. We affirm the ability of pregnant people to make good moral choices and believe the decision to end a pregnancy can be such a choice. Abortion is a complex health care and moral issue requiring nuanced medical, ethical and spiritual discernment in each unique situation, without interference from the government.”

Maine House and Senate Republicans oppose the governor’s bill, describing it as a bill “to expand abortion to nine months and remove the requirement that licensed physicians, physician assistants, or advanced registered nurses perform procedures that terminate life.”