The last two weeks have been phenomenal weeks for all of the reproductive justice and abortion rights bills making their way through the state legislature. After a long wait, we finally saw movement on four bills addressing women's reproductive health. Two anti-abortion bills were soundly defeated and two bills supporting women’s reproductive rights were passed in both chambers of the legislature.
LD 1312, An Act To License Outpatient Surgical Abortion Facilities, was defeated in both the House and the Senate. The bill, a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill, would have required that abortion facilities be licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill did not explain what this licensure would entail. Maine already provides strict oversight of all abortion providers. Physicians performing abortions are licensed by the Medical Board. Providers must follow all of the practice rules and mandatory reporting requirements set by the Board or their medical license can be revoked. At the end of May, the House voted against the bill with a fairly large margin (84-65). Just two weeks ago, the Senate also voted against the bill (21-14). The bill is now officially dead.
LD 83, An Act To Strengthen the Consent Laws for Abortions Performed on Minors and Incapacitated Persons, was also defeated in the House and in the Senate. This bill would have required all minors, regardless of circumstances, to bring to the clinic a consenting lawful parent to consent to the young person’s abortion. The parent (or legal guardian) would have to provide written documentation proving that they are, in fact, the lawful parent or legal guardian. This bill would have repealed Maine’s current parental involvement law – a law that’s been working successfully for 25 years. Both the House and the Senate voted on LD 83 last Wednesday. The bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 18-17; it was defeated in the House by a vote of 77-67.
LD 1013, An Act To Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners, fared overwhelmingly well in both the House and the Senate. This bill will prohibit the use of restraints on a pregnant prisoner or detainee during transport, labor and delivery, and postpartum recovery. The bill prohibits all use of restraints except in extraordinary situations. The bill had a huge victory in the House, with a vote of 101-40. The Senate voted to pass the bill without roll-call or debate. This past Monday, both chambers voted to enact the bill into law. It is now up to Governor LePage to either sign the bill into law or veto the bill.
Last, but not least, LD 319, An Act To Strengthen the Economic Stability of Qualified Maine Citizens by Expanding Coverage of Reproductive Health Care and Family Services, passed both the House and the Senate. The bill will provide access to critical disease prevention and essential reproductive health care for low-income, underinsured, and uninsured Mainers. After being enacted by the House, it is currently waiting to be enacted by the Senate.
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