PORTLAND – Patient advocates and organizations that champion reproductive rights and related causes praised today’s Maine State Senate’s majority vote to enact LD 1619, An Act to Improve Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Laws.
Governor Janet Mills announced LD 1619 as a key bill in this first full legislative session since the U.S. Supreme Court revoked federal protections for abortion last year, and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, Senate President Troy Jackson, and a majority of lawmakers in both chambers championed this bill along with four others since its official introduction last spring.
LD 1619 was inspired by Dana, a Yarmouth woman who, due to Maine’s current law, was forced to travel to Colorado to receive an abortion later in pregnancy after discovering her son had a lethal form of spinal dysplasia. Dana had to spend tens of thousands of dollars, leave her trusted medical team here in Maine, and leave her support system, family and friends just to get the medical care she needed, when she needed it.
LD 1619 will ensure no Maine family will have to suffer through what Dana’s did. The bill will remove Maine’s current ban on abortion later in pregnancy, remove criminal penalties attached to abortion care and no other medical procedure, and update the state’s antiquated data collection laws for abortion providers and patients.
Dana, fellow patient advocate, Zoe, and reproductive rights organizations and faith leaders throughout the state applauded the Maine Senate’s enactment vote:
Nicole Clegg, Interim CEO, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
“Voters elected reproductive rights champions to lead this state in a Post-Roe world, and today, these state senators responded with action.
A majority of lawmakers voted in accordance with evidence-based best practices and facts. Abortion is healthcare, and today’s vote means that no Maine family will be forced to suffer through unnecessary emotional, physical, psychological and financial harm simply to receive abortion care they need, when they need it. Maine’s medical providers will no longer have to send patients out of state for care they are trained to provide. Maine will no longer criminalize abortion care.
Let’s be clear: Mainers trust doctors and their patients to make private, deeply personal and complex medical decisions without political interference.This vote is aligned with the will of Maine voters and Maine values and is an act of trust and compassion for pregnant people and the providers who care for them.”
Dana Peirce, Yarmouth, Maine patient advocate:
“We learned during the 32nd week of a seemingly healthy pregnancy that the baby I was carrying, Cameron, had a rare and lethal form of skeletal dysplasia. He had multiple broken bones, and if he survived until delivery, he would not have been able to breathe outside of me.
In this moment of shock and grief, my doctors here in Maine could not help us, because state law at the time banned abortions later in pregnancy. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have the social and financial resources — the abortion alone cost $25,000 — to travel across the country for abortion care to end our son's suffering.
I have advocated for LD 1619 because I needed an abortion late in pregnancy and I got one. But even as we were able to travel and pay for the care I needed, we were painfully aware that most Mainers (and most Americans!) in my situation would not have been able to access the care that I received.
I am grateful beyond explanation that Maine legislators have heard my story and acted to protect other Mainers from the unnecessary suffering we endured.”
Zoe Reich, Portland, Maine patient advocate:
“Today is a proud and deeply emotional day for me and all patient advocates who have been tirelessly sharing our stories in the hopes of impacting change through improving Maine's laws. The passing of LD 1619 will provide great relief to patients who find themselves in need of abortion care later in pregnancy, like I did.
LD 1619 will allow opportunities and futures that abortion access makes possible: jobs, education, fulfilling relationships, safe and healthy future pregnancies, economic stability for families of all sizes. My abortion changed my life and allowed me to go on to have two amazing, healthy, children. I love this state and I'm proud that it will be a place where no one will be forced to endure the cruel and punitive suffering that I did, in order to get the healthcare they need.
I have deep gratitude for the lawmakers who heard our stories and saw the need to improve Maine's law. To them, I say thank you. You have made the suffering of pregnant people who find themselves in heartbreaking and desperate situations a little less and you have allowed people to stay close to their family and support networks when they need it the most. Knowing Maine will soon have a law that supports people who need abortion later in pregnancy makes me proud to be a Mainer.”
Meagan Sway, Policy Director, ACLU of Maine:
“We applaud Maine lawmakers for passing this legislation to protect abortion access by repealing outdated and anti-science laws criminalizing essential healthcare. Across the country, states are banning abortion and threatening prosecution against patients and providers. Maine has moved in the opposite direction, making it easier for its people to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves without legal threats or judgment, including the ability to access abortion care.”
Elayne Richard, Education Coordinator, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!):
"We are proud of the majority of our lawmakers for expressing their trust in pregnant Mainers, and for standing up to the intimidation and stigma of those who support forced pregnancy and birth. We who have been in this fight for half a century don't plan to quit any time soon."
Regina Rooney, Education & Communications Director and Kelly O’Connor, Training Institute Director, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
“Intimate partner violence is one of the top reasons that survivors end up not accessing abortion until later in pregnancy. LD 1619 ensures that abortions later in pregnancy are made available in the best judgment of a physician – crucially removing barriers for all Mainers, including survivors of intimate partner violence – by ensuring that patients and their providers are the ones making health care decisions. MCEDV applauds the work of the 131st legislature and Governor Mills to expand reproductive health access to all Mainers – in doing so, they have expanded the options and resources available to some of Maine’s most vulnerable people – survivors of intimate partner violence.”
Abbie Strout-Bentes, Co-Director, Mabel Wadsworth Center:
“As a healthcare center that provides prenatal and abortion care, we understand that decisions around pregnancy are complex and unique to each of us. They are some of the most intimate and life-changing choices we make in our lives. We are grateful to see the majority of Maine leaders rejected the fear tactics, harmful rhetoric, and disinformation spread by anti-abortion extremists and passed LD 1619, a compassionate bill that trusts medical professionals and pregnant people to make decisions about their healthcare needs.”
Rev. Jane Field, Maine Council of Churches:
“As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting reproductive justice, the Maine Council of Churches, an ecumenical coalition of seven mainline Protestant denominations here in the state, supported passage of LD 1619. And we did so, not despite our faith, but because of it.
Rather than offer rigid, simplistic, one-size-fits-all “answers” to life’s most difficult and complex questions, we are called to respect the moral capacity and autonomy of pregnant persons to discern, in consultation with licensed health care providers who are bound by medical ethics and best able to determine appropriate care, the best path forward.
We do not believe anyone should be forced by the government to remain pregnant against the advice of their doctor. We are grateful that, with the passage of LD 1619, Mainers will no longer be forced to travel to a faraway state to receive necessary care from doctors other than their own at a time when they are suffering unimaginable loss and heartache and deserve not stigma nor shame, but only our compassion, support, and respect.”
George Hill, President & CEO, Maine Family Planning:
"Abortion bans of any kind harm pregnant people and their families. Maine Family Planning is proud to see Maine lawmakers take a bold stand against reproductive injustice this legislative session, enacting the will of the majority of Mainers--and all Americans--who want reproductive health care to remain private, accessible, and patient-centered.
As other states enact harmful bans and restrictions on abortion, Maine is choosing to trust individuals to make these profoundly personal decisions without political interference. As one of the people who fought to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act thirty years ago, I am grateful for these critical improvements to Maine's abortion laws."
Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director, Maine Women’s Lobby:
"Attacks on LD 1619 are rooted in the belief that women and pregnant people aren't responsible enough to know their own bodies and needs. Passing this bill affirms that we can trust people and their doctors to make sound decisions, and moves us closer to ensuring that all Mainers have the autonomy to control their own bodies and futures."