Like many in our community, the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade filled me with sadness and fear. Though the news didn’t come as a total surprise, it did drive home for many of us just how close we are to losing a fundamental right that has been recognized in this country for 50 years: The rights of people to be in charge of their own reproductive health, and to decide if and when to start a family. As terrifying as that prospect is, it’s important everyone know that for now, Roe is still the law of the land, and people in all 50 states are still able to get abortions legally.
But as we’ve seen in the news, this hasn’t stopped state legislatures around the country from chipping away at this right, especially these past couple years. States have closed down clinics that offer abortion services, banned abortions after as early as six weeks – before many people even know they’re pregnant – and implemented mandatory waiting periods that only cause more harm and heartache. There are also states preparing legislation that would automatically outlaw abortions in the event Roe is indeed overturned. Luckily, in Maine, the right to a safe, affordable, legal abortion remains codified in our laws, due in large part to work my colleagues in the Legislature and I were able to accomplish these past few years.
Just last year, Maine’s Legislature voted down six bills designed to limit Mainers’ rights to abortion care. This included bills that would repeal insurance coverage for abortion services for MaineCare patients, a bill that would require unnecessary ultrasounds and waiting periods for people seeking abortions, and bills that posed serious threat to pregnant people by pushing dangerous, so-called “abortion reversal” drugs.
Instead, lawmakers recognized that abortion care is health care, and that access to safe, legal, affordable abortion benefits individuals, families, and society as a whole. We made it possible for more types of health care providers to legally provide abortions by recognizing that there are qualified medical professionals other than doctors who can provide that care. We required insurance to cover abortion services so that no matter where you live in Maine or how much money you make, you could afford to get the care you need.
But my colleagues and I also recognized that people’s autonomy over their reproductive health doesn’t begin the moment they get pregnant or end the moment they give birth. To help support people starting families if and when they’re ready, we required insurance coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive choices, and we passed a law requiring state-regulated insurance plans to cover fertility care. We also expanded insurance coverage of postpartum care to ensure that parents and their new babies are able to get off to a healthy and supportive start, and expanded low-cost health care coverage for children. These are just a few of the many steps we have taken to support Maine children and families.
As most of us recognize, making abortion illegal will not stop people from having abortions. What it will do is force people to seek abortions in illegal and unsafe settings. While Mainers have their rights protected for now, it’s important that we recognize the seriousness of this moment and that we stay vigilant. A simple majority in Maine’s Legislature is all that’s needed for anti-abortion lawmakers to take those rights away.
If you have any questions about the legislation we passed this session, or if I can help connect you with resources to help you and your family, please reach out to me any time. You can send me an email at Chloe.Maxmin@legislature.maine.gov, call or text my cell phone at (207) 200-6224, or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChloeForSenate. You can also sign up for my regular e-newsletter by visiting www.mainesenate.org.