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October 25, 2023

People rallied for abortion access following the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision overturning Roe and Casey, June 24, 2022. Credit: Samuel Crankshaw, ACLU of Maine.

PORTLAND – Against a landscape of increasing attacks on sexual and reproductive healthcare nationwide, several new laws take effect today in Maine that protect and expand access to abortion and related care.

During the first full legislative session since the U.S. Supreme Court revoked federal protections for abortion, state lawmakers passed a slate of bills aimed at safeguarding reproductive liberties in Maine. Laws that take effect today include LD 1619, An Act to Improve Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Laws, legislation that makes Maine the first state in the country to expand access to abortion later in pregnancy post-Dobbs.

LD 1619, championed by Governor Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, also removed criminal penalties attached to abortion care and no other medical procedure and updated the state’s antiquated abortion data collection requirements.

In addition to LD 1619, new laws protecting patients and providers will help ensure Maine patients can get the care they need. Becoming law today is LD 1343, introduced by Rep. Laura Supica, which ensures the right to abortion is protected for people in all Maine cities and towns. LD 616, sponsored by Rep. Amy Kuhn, protects clinicians who provide abortion from adverse actions from malpractice insurers. LD 263, introduced by Rep. Melanie Sachs, ensures the availability of sexual and reproductive health care in the event of a merger or acquisition by a religious-affiliated health care provider.

Lawmakers also addressed related sexual and reproductive health care, by passing laws that increase access to birth control and affirm MaineCare coverage of gender affirming care. Another bill with significant impact will take effect in January 2024; LD 935, sponsored by Rep. Matt Moonen will prohibit insurers from requiring patients meet deductibles or other cost-sharing fees before they will cover care.

Meagan Sway, Policy Director, ACLU of Maine:

"We are proud to see outdated and anti-science abortion laws officially off the books in Maine. Dozens of states are moving in the opposite direction, but Maine's people are freer today because they are no longer subject to criminalization for life-saving abortion care.

These new laws are vital pieces of comprehensive reproductive health care that will improve maternal health outcomes for all, particularly people of color, in rural areas, and with limited resources. We are proud to live in a state that is actively making it easier for people to make the best decisions for themselves without legal threats or judgment, including the ability to access abortion care.”

Statement from Nicole Clegg, Acting CEO, Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England: 

"We celebrate today. The hard work of advocates, faith leaders, patients, medical providers and lawmakers means Maine has made great strides in protecting and expanding access to abortion and related care.

By passing these laws, our elected leaders demonstrated that they value science, they value compassion, and they value the ability of every person in Maine to make private, deeply personal medical decisions without political interference.

Make no mistake: Our reproductive rights and freedoms remain under attack. Despite voters across the country casting ballots to protect and expand access to abortion, people opposed to abortion continue to push for harmful restrictions and bans on essential medical care.

Maine made progress this past legislative session, and we are proud of everyone who worked to make sure these laws became reality today. And, we cannot stop here. We have to continue to fight against attacks and to work to make sure every pregnant person in Maine has safe, legal and affordable access to care, when they need it.”

Dana Peirce, Yarmouth, Maine patient advocate:

“I advocated for LD 1619 because I needed an abortion late in pregnancy and I got one. Despite the tragedy of our son’s suffering, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the social and financial resources to safely access abortion care in our country. Many Mainers and Americans have not been so fortunate.

On Jan. 25, 2019, I was 32 weeks into my pregnancy when my husband and I learned that our baby, Cameron, was suffering and would not survive outside of my body. We were reeling from shock and grief. The realization that I would need to travel across the country to access abortion care made our experience exponentially worse.

I’ve told my story a lot since then, and there are two big reasons why I’ve told it so often, and so publicly. First, I want to be there for anyone else going through this. Second, I want to change the laws that punished me for seeking abortion care in my third trimester of pregnancy.

Today, several bills protecting and expanding access to abortion care in Maine will become law, including LD 1619, which places trust in medical providers and their patients to make private medical decisions without political interference. This means Mainers can get the abortion care they need, right here at home.

I am grateful beyond explanation that Governor Mills and our Maine legislators heard my story and acted to protect other Mainers from the unnecessary suffering we endured. I cannot thank them enough.”

Zoe Reich, Portland, Maine patient advocate:

“Today marks a proud day in Maine’s history, being the first state since Roe was overturned to expand abortion access later in pregnancy. That is incredible. LD 1619 acknowledges that pregnancy is complicated and sometimes, like in my first pregnancy, a wanted pregnancy is no longer a healthy pregnancy. This compassionate and evidence-based law will allow pregnant people in Maine to access care throughout their pregnancy, without punitive barriers like needing to travel to another state and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket - like I did.

By passing LD 1619 and related bills, Maine legislators recognize that there will always be pregnant people who find themselves in difficult circumstances later into their pregnancy. I am grateful I live in a state where legislators really listen to their constituents, consider our lived experiences, and fight to enact laws that protect us.

I’m just a regular person who didn’t want to see more people suffer. Talking about my experience with legislators moved the conversation from a hypothetical to focusing on real people, like me, who suffer tremendously due to laws that don’t reflect all the things that can happen in the course of a pregnancy. And our legislators heard me, heard from people like me, listened to the medical community and acted.”

Kelli McCannell, Executive Director, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!):

"As criminalization of pregnancy and discriminatory healthcare practices run rampant nationally, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights is proud of Maine's legislative measures to improve access to abortion care while protecting patient privacy and autonomy. Mainers have repeatedly demonstrated strong support of both abortion rights and inclusive healthcare, and these bills make clear our state's principled commitment to reproductive freedom.”

Amanda Taisey, Health Systems Engagement Coordinator, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence:

"The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence stands in solidarity with those who bravely shared stories of how access to abortion care saved or improved their lives and the lives of their families.

Abusive partners and their power and control tactics, including physical and sexual violence, are key reasons why survivors may have pregnancies they do not intend, may be prevented from seeking care when they want and need it, or suffer complications in their pregnancies.

We applaud the elected officials and Governor Mills for taking ground-breaking steps to ensure access to the full range of reproductive healthcare for all Mainers.  MCEDV and the Domestic Violence Resource Centers across our state are proud to continue to support survivors accessing the care that they need and have a right to.”

Aspen Ruhlin, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mabel Wadsworth Center:

"With the new bills going into effect on October 25th and at the beginning of the new year, Mabel Wadsworth Center is excited to see Maine take a strong stance on strengthening reproductive rights and improving abortion access in the state. All people deserve autonomy and access to the care they need, and we hope that other states continue to follow suit.”

Rev. Jane Field, Maine Council of Churches:

"A majority of Mainers—including a majority of Mainers of faith—elected reproductive rights champions to represent them in Augusta, and those elected leaders listened and voted to pass this legislation.

The Maine Council of Churches supported passage of these new laws, not despite our faith, but because of it.  We don’t believe anyone deserves the judgment, stigma, and shame some religious groups hurl at them.  What we believe our faith compels us to offer is simply this: our compassion, our support, our respect, and our best efforts to ensure they can receive necessary medical care right here at home in Maine from doctors they know and trust.”

George Hill, President and CEO, Maine Family Planning:

"Maine lawmakers enacted the will of the people last session, standing up for reproductive freedom and liberty against the tyranny of unpopular and deeply harmful anti-abortion policy and legislation being pushed through in other parts of the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned. This suite of legislation advances access to essential healthcare for people in Maine, protects health care providers, and updates our landmark Reproductive Privacy Act for the first time in 30 years.

At Maine Family Planning we celebrate these bills becoming law, and we look forward to continuing our work with allies and community members throughout the state to further strengthen sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights here in Maine.”

Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director, Maine Women’s Lobby:

"Together, these bills break down barriers to accessing affordable, appropriate abortion care, and to create more effective systems for safe reproductive and sexual health care. Abortion access is the cornerstone of gender equity, and we couldn't be more proud that Maine is leading the way on this critical work.”