Democrats in Maine’s legislature have passed a contentious proposal expanding abortion access to substantially later in pregnancy, rendering Maine among states with the least restrictive abortion laws. The proposal, which is reportedly soon to be signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills (D), permits the procedure whenever deemed medically necessary by a doctor.
Gov. Mills, who advocated for abortion rights in her reelection campaign, defended the bill, saying, “Fundamentally, these decisions are decisions that should be made by a woman and her medical provider.” She also clarified the bill’s intent, indicating it would address situations where serious fetal anomalies are identified late in pregnancy.
Opponents of the bill, such as Republican Rep. Rachel Henderson, expressed concern over the potential misuse of the bill beyond preventing fetal suffering.
Despite existing gestational restrictions, post-viability abortions in Maine are rare. However, the passage of this bill is part of a broader pro-choice legislative agenda pushed by the Democrats, who took control of the Maine legislature after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Their initiatives include eliminating insurance deductibles and co-pays for abortion services and preventing localities from passing their own abortion regulations.
However, the path to passing the bill was not smooth. While the bill had the support of more than 95 co-sponsors, it nearly stalled in the House after several Democrats joined Republicans in opposition. A late amendment that proposed limiting post-viability abortions to cases of lethal fetal anomalies or instances of rape or incest was rejected. After intense negotiation, the bill was saved and narrowly passed the House by two votes. In contrast, the Senate passage was less fraught, with only one Democrat opposing the bill.