The decade's most triggering comedy
Maine may soon allow elective abortions up until birth, pending final approval from the state’s governor.
The bill — H.P. 1044, An Act to Improve Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Laws — would allow a woman to receive a late-term abortion at any point if it is determined to be “necessary” by a doctor.
It’s likely the legislation will be codified. Maine Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, introduced the bill in January alongside legislative leadership, both also Democrats: House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and Senate President Troy Jackson. At the time, Mills credited the case of Maine woman Dana Peirce as justification for the expanded legalization of abortion.
At eight months pregnant, Peirce wanted to abort her unborn son after he was diagnosed with a genetic mutation called lethal skeletal dysplasia, as reported by the Portland Press Herald. Peirce ultimately traveled to Colorado for an abortion because Maine law prohibits post-viability abortions where the mother’s life or health are not jeopardized. The law does allow elective abortions up to viability, generally recognized at 24 weeks.
“No Maine person should have to endure the same physical, emotional, psychological, and financial burden that Dana and her family had to in order to receive medical care,” stated Mills.
Today, I joined House Speaker Talbot Ross and Senate President Jackson to announce that I am presenting legislation to strengthen Maine’s reproductive health care laws. 1/
— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) January 17, 2023
H.P. 1044 passed out of the Maine Senate 20-11 on Thursday. The state House passed the bill last month, 73-69.
During the Senate’s final vote, Republican state Sen. Stacey Guerin raised concerns about doctors and mothers determining unborn children diagnosed with disabilities to be unworthy of life.
“Were they of less value to society?” said Guerin. “When we start down the path of deciding who is worthy of life, where do we stop? Where did governments before us stop in deciding who had the right to live, and who had the right to die, to make it convenient for the parents, the government, for business?”
Another Republican state senator, Eric Brakey, questioned the resistance from Democrats to narrowly legislate around fatal fetal abnormalities rather than expanding elective abortion.
“We are really opening the door here for those circumstances where […] a fully-developed baby could be killed for any number of reasons,” said Brakey.
Brakey introduced several unsuccessful amendments to mitigate the legislation’s impact. One reworked the bill’s language to only expand post-viability abortions to cases where the unborn child suffers from a fatal fetal abnormality likely to result in death within 30 days post-birth. Another proposed instituting a four-year moratorium on the sale or transfer of aborted fetal remains to for-profit or nonprofit entities.
State Sen. Anne Carney, a Democrat, declared that the bill represented compassion for families facing trying times.
During the final House vote on the bill, Republican State Rep. Tracy Quint argued that the bill would allow for abortions to take place without any valid reason.
“This bill allows babies at this age group of viability to be killed[,] at any time, for any reason, truly, for no reason at all,” said Quint. “Please allow our most vulnerable ones the chance of survival.”
Democratic State Rep. Bruce White broke ranks and voted against the bill, comparing the legislation to the historical persecution of classes of individuals that faced dehumanization and genocide for their differences.
“To me, this isn’t about winning the next election; it’s about upholding the dignity and rights of the human person,” said White. “The vagueness [of this bill] puts at risk the lives of late-term, healthy, preborn children.”
Republican State Reps. Lucas Lanigan and David Boyer, both pro-choice, said that even they found the bill to be too extreme.
The bill is the latest in the state’s efforts to increase abortion accessibility.
In 2019, Mills enacted legislation requiring public and private insurance to cover abortion services. The governor also enacted legislation allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, such as nurses.
Last year following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Mills issued an executive order prohibiting the state from cooperating with other states in the investigation of abortion law violators, as well as directing state agencies to research and limit laws and regulations limiting abortions.
Other governors in the alliance include Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Delaware Governor John Carney, Hawai’i Governor Josh Green, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.
The alliance receives funding from the California Wellness Foundation and additional support from the Rosenberg Foundation, a statement from Newsom’s office said.