Newly Blue Maine Expands Access To Abortion

While abortion bans in Republican-led states dominated headlines in latest weeks, a handful of different states have expanded abortion entry. Maine joined these ranks in June with two new legal guidelines ― one requires all insurance coverage and Medicaid to cowl the process and the opposite permits doctor assistants and nurses with superior coaching to carry out it.

With these legal guidelines, Maine joins New York, Illinois, Rhode Island and Vermont as states which can be making an attempt to shore up the proper to abortion prematurely of an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court problem. What units Maine aside is how just lately Democrats have taken power within the state.

“Elections matter,” stated Nicole Clegg of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Since the 2018 elections, Maine has its largest contingent of feminine lawmakers, with 71 ladies serving in each chambers. “We saw an overwhelming majority of elected officials who support reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care.”

The dramatic political change additionally noticed Maine elect its first female governor, Janet Mills, a Democrat who took over from Paul LePage, a Tea Party stalwart who served two phrases. LePage had blocked Medicaid growth within the state even after voters authorised it in a referendum.

Clegg and different supporters of abortion rights hailed the brand new abortion laws: “It will be the single most important event since Roe versus Wade in the state of Maine.”

Taken collectively, the intent of the 2 legal guidelines is to make it simpler for girls to afford and to seek out abortion care within the largely rural state.

Nurse practitioners like Julie Jenkins, who works in a small coastal city, stated that rising the variety of abortion suppliers will make it simpler for sufferers who now need to journey lengthy distances in Maine to have a physician carry out the process.

“Five hours to get to a provider and back ― that’s not unheard of,” Jenkins stated.

Physician assistants and nurses with superior coaching will have the ability to carry out a surgical type of the process generally known as an aspiration abortion. These clinicians already are allowed to make use of the identical method in different circumstances, reminiscent of when a lady has a miscarriage.

Maine’s different new legislation, set to be applied early subsequent yr, requires all insurance policy ― together with Medicaid ― to cowl abortions. Kate Brogan of Maine Family Planning stated it’s a workaround for a U.S. legislation generally known as the Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal funding for abortions besides to save lots of the lifetime of the lady, or if the being pregnant arises from incest or rape.

“[Hyde] is a policy decision that we think coerces women into continuing pregnancies that they don’t want to continue,” Brogan stated. “Because if you continue your pregnancy, Medicaid will cover it. But if you want to end your pregnancy, you have to come up with the money [to pay for an abortion].”

State will now fund abortions beneath Maine’s Medicaid, which is funded by each state and federal tax .

Though the invoice handed within the Democratic-controlled legislature, it confronted staunch opposition from Republicans throughout ground debates together with Sen. Lisa Keim.

“Maine people should not be forced to have their hard-earned tax dollars [used] to take the life of a living pre-born child,” stated Keim.

Instead, Keim argued, abortions for low-income ladies ought to be funded by supporters who want to donate cash; in any other case, the spiritual convictions of abortion opponents are in danger. “Our decision today cannot be to strip the religious liberty of Maine people through taxation,” Keim stated throughout the debate.

Rep. Beth O’Connor, a Republican who says she personally opposes abortion however believes ladies ought to have a selection, stated she had security considerations about letting clinicians who will not be docs present abortions.

“I think this is very risky, and I think it puts the woman’s health at risk,” O’Connor stated.

In distinction, superior apply clinicians say the laws, which can take impact in September, stated this legislation merely permits them to function to the complete scope of their experience and expands entry to vital well being care. The measure has the backing of doctor teams just like the Maine Medical Association.

Just as red-state legal guidelines proscribing abortion are being challenged, so are Maine’s new legal guidelines. Days after Maine’s legislation on Medicaid abortion handed, organizations that oppose abortion rights introduced they’re mounting an effort to place the problem on the poll for a individuals’s veto.

This story is a part of a partnership that features Maine Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

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