In an effort to make it easier to obtain an abortion in Maine, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has proposed legislation to remove the current restriction that only doctors can perform abortions.
The bill would allow a physician assistant, an advanced practice registered nurse, certified nurse-midwives or other medical professionals to perform abortions, according to the Bangor Daily News.
“Every woman in Maine should be able to access reproductive health care when and where she needs it, regardless of her zip code,” Mills said in a prepared statement, the Sun Journal reported.
“Allowing advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform medication-administered abortions, which are already permitted in other states, will ensure Maine women, especially in rural areas of our state, can access reproductive health care services,” she said.
The Christian Civic League of Maine is against the proposal, said Carroll Conley, its executive director.
“We just feel that health care and any expansion of it should be life-affirming and not life-ending. Making health care more accessible is not contrary to our mission as long as it’s life-affirming,” Conley said.
The group has some legislative allies.
“I agree with those bans and I think they should stay in place,” Republican state Rep. Beth O’Connor said, according to WPFO.
“This will be a party line vote, probably, and hopefully, a few (Democrats) from the other side will be swayed to say ‘no’ to this,” O’Connor said.
According to ABC, O’Connor said that the bill to expand who could perform abortions and a proposal to allow Medicaid-funded abortions were “extremist.”
Mills said Republicans should wait before staking out their opposition.
“I would ask the current (GOP) leaders to look to their elders and mentors in the past before they pass judgment on a bill that simply expands the list of providers who might be able to perform early term abortions and allow rural in underserved areas to have access to the same services that women in urban areas already have,” Mills said.
Democrats in various states have pushed abortion access legislation this year, including a New York law that declares a fundamental right to abortion and a Virginia law that drew controversy when its architect indicated it would allow abortion right up until the moment of birth.
Maine’s legislation has been proposed before, but there is one significant political difference. Democrats now hold majorities in the Maine House and Senate and hold the governor’s office.
Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said the bill was a step forward for women.
“No matter where they live, every woman has the right to safely make her own health decision and to control her own future. I’m proud to sponsor this bill which will finally correct an outdated law that severely limits safe access to abortion,” she tweeted.
No matter where they live, every woman has the right to safely make her own health decisions and to control her own future. I’m proud to sponsor this bill which will finally correct an outdated law that severely limits safe access to abortion. #mepolitics https://t.co/onoSkB1YNn
— Speaker Sara Gideon (@saragideon) March 14, 2019
“Women in rural Maine have been disproportionately harmed, where the sheer logistics of arranging for travel, taking time off work and securing child care create an often insurmountable barrier to accessing the full range of family planning services,” Gideon said in a statement.
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