This bill would end Maine’s outdated ban on advanced practice clinicians (APCs) such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse-midwives providing abortion care in Maine.
It would greatly expand access to needed health care, especially in rural parts of the state.
There are only three publicly accessible health centers in Maine (in Augusta, Bangor and Portland) where a patient can get an aspiration abortion or any abortion care after 10 weeks. Some people in rural parts of the state have to travel as far as eight hours round trip for an abortion – even if there is a qualified health care provider in their community who could perform one. While medication abortions are available in some cases via telemedicine at clinics throughout rural Maine, the APC ban makes delivering abortion care via telemedicine unnecessarily onerous.
As a result, some people must delay their abortion while they save money and arrange for transport, time off work, and child care, or forgo having an abortion at all. These barriers fall hardest on people who already face systemic barriers to health care, including people of color, people living in rural areas, young people and people with low incomes.
Currently, APCs provide a wide range of health services of equal or greater complexity than abortion, including miscarriage management – which is identical to the procedure used for an early in-office abortion. Numerous health organizations, including the World Health Organization, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association support allowing APCs to perform abortions in early pregnancy.