Maine moves to safeguard access to abortion and reproductive freedom
AUGUSTA — Today, Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order to further safeguard access to abortion in Maine and to protect both Maine health care professionals who provide reproductive health care and the patients who depend on this care, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“I fully support Governor Mills’ swift action which strengthens abortion rights and protections. As anti-abortion politicians across the country work to criminalize reproductive health care and access to contraception, Maine is standing by the principles of freedom and justice. We won’t comply with other states’ vicious attacks on reproductive rights,” said Speaker Ryan Fecteau. “Although an extremist majority on the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, Mainers value safe and legal access to abortion care. Abortion care is health care. I am proud to have a Governor who stands with us on this.”
The Governor’s Executive Order:
- prohibits State agencies from cooperating with another state’s investigation into a person, organization, or health care provider for delivering abortion care in Maine;
- directs State agencies to conduct a review of laws and regulations for barriers to reproductive health care and exercise discretionary authority under the law to remove or minimize those barriers, and, among other things;
- makes clear that the Governor will exercise her authority within the law to decline extradition attempts from other states pursuing criminal charges against a person for receiving or performing abortion care.
This Executive Order builds on the expansion of abortion care in Maine, access to contraception and protections for mothers and children.
The Maine Legislature passed LD 318 An Act to Protect Reproductive Privacy in Maine codifying the right to an abortion in 1993. Former Gov. John McKernan signed it into law. That bill passed with a ⅔ majority in the Maine House and Senate. Because of this law, abortion is legal in Maine, even though Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
Over the last three years, Maine has expanded access to abortion by passing LD 820 An Act To Prevent Discrimination in Public and Private Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women in Maine ensuring health insurance covers all reproductive care. Maine expanded access to abortion from physicians assistants and nurse practitioners by passing LD 1261 An Act To Authorize Certain Health Care Professionals To Perform Abortions. Maine passed LD 1899 An Act To Ensure Safe Entry and Access for People Seeking Health Care and Other Constitutional Rights to protect patients as they approach the provider’s offices where they receive care. Maine has also ensured insurance companies cover contraception by passing LD 1954, An Act To Ensure Access to Prescription Contraceptives. Governor Mills signed these into law.
Nationwide, in the first months of 2022, legislators introduced 521 abortion restrictions in 42 states. In Maine, six bills were introduced to restrict reproductive freedom in the 130th Legislature. The Maine Legislature killed all six of these bills, which were introduced by Republican members.
Governor Mills has also signed bills from Democrats to strengthen care for mothers, children and families including LD 1357 An Act To Require Private Insurance Coverage for Postpartum Care to help more Mainers receive the postpartum care they need in the months following childbirth. The new law requires insurers to provide coverage for 12 months of postpartum care that meets the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Maine also improved health care coverage for Maine kids by expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, (CHIP or “Cub Care”) to ensure an additional 40,000 Maine kids can get the care they need.