With Two New Laws on the Books, State Expands Access to Safe Abortion Care for All Mainers

 

Augusta – Gov. Mills today signed historic legislation that will ensure Mainers can afford abortion care, regardless of what kind of insurance they use. LD 820 will require public and private insurance plans that cover prenatal care to also covert abortion care. The law follows passage of LD 1261, which ends the ban on qualified nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians (APCs) providing abortion care.

“With the passage of these laws, Maine has taken huge strides to protect the safety and autonomy of all people,” said Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director for the ACLU of Maine. “These laws affirm that abortion is health care, and that everyone should have access to the health care they need – regardless of where they live or how much money they make.”

The ACLU has been litigating both of these issues in Maine, and applauded the actions of the legislature and the governor.

“There is no justification for discriminating against people based on their personal medical decisions,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine. “We are pleased that the legislative branch and executive branch agree, and we are hopeful that the judicial branch will agree as well."

In 2015, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Maine’s ban on Medicaid coverage of abortion, on behalf of Maine’s abortion providers. The lawsuit argues that by withholding MaineCare coverage of abortion, but covering a full range of pregnancy-related care, the state interferes with an individual’s fundamental right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy and discriminates against people who decide to have an abortion.

Planned Parenthood joined the ACLU in filing the case, Mabel Wadsworth Center et al. v. Lambrew, on behalf of Mabel Wadsworth Center, Maine Family Planning and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Oral arguments will be held in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on June 26.

And in 2017, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging the provision of Maine law that required that abortions be performed solely by physicians and blocked qualified APCs from doing so, despite their rigorous training and extensive clinical experience.

Planned Parenthood joined the ACLU in filing the case, Jenkins et al. v. Lynch et al., on behalf of Maine Family Planning, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and five nurse practitioners. With the signing of LD 1261, the lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendants jointly proposed that the court dismiss the case.

More information about those cases is available here:

https://www.aclumaine.org/en/cases/mabel-wadsworth-womens-health-center-et-al-v-ricker-hamilton

https://www.aclumaine.org/en/cases/jenkins-et-al-v-lynch-et-al

 

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