Governor Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson, and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross announced legislation to strengthen Maine’s reproductive health care laws.
The legislation is inspired by the story of Yarmouth resident Dana Peirce. In 2019, Peirce was expecting her second child with her husband when she learned later in her pregnancy that her child was suffering from a deadly form of skeletal dysplasia, a random, rare genetic mutation. The condition resulted in her child having several broken bones while in the womb and would have prevented him from being able to breathe, if he was able to survive birth. Maine’s abortion laws prevented Peirce from seeking an abortion in Maine. Instead, she and her husband had to travel to Colorado, she wrote in a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed.
The Governor’s bill announced this week, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Talbot Ross, seeks to ensure that no Maine person has to endure the same physical, emotional, psychological, and financial burden that Peirce did in order to receive medical care. The changes make clear that the decision about an abortion later in a pregnancy will be made by qualified medical professionals in conjunction with their patient, ensuring that medical providers can offer care their patients need, when they need it.
The legislation also eliminates language in current law that subjects medical providers who perform abortions to criminal penalties under certain circumstances, instead regulating abortion like other safe, legal medical procedures. It updates antiquated data collection policies related to abortion care to reduce stigma, protect patient privacy, and protect reproductive health care providers.
The legislation was unveiled ahead of Sunday, January 22, which would have marked the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed federal protections for abortion. Since the Court overturned those protections in June 2022, 1 in 3 Americans have lost the right to an abortion in their home state.