July 6, 2022
In the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, Governor Janet Mills has signed an Executive Order to further safeguard access to abortion in Maine and to protect Maine health care providers who provide reproductive health care and their patients.
The Governor’s action yesterday strengthens existing protections for the full continuum of reproductive health care under Maine law. Since 1994, Maine law has affirmatively guaranteed access to abortion services in most circumstances. Specifically, “It is the public policy of the State that the State not restrict a woman’s exercise of her private decision to terminate a pregnancy before viability” if:
- For adults, written informed consent is secured, with information provided including: that the adult is pregnant; the number of weeks that have elapsed from the probable time of conception; the risks associated with pregnancy and the abortion technique to be performed; and, at the adult’s request, alternatives to abortion.
- For minors (people under age 18), written informed consent is secured from a mentally and physically competent minor and one parent, guardian or adult family member, and made part of the medical record; specific counseling and information is shared with the minor and acknowledged in writing; or a Probate or District Court issues an order on petition of the minor or the next friend of the minor granting the minor majority rights solely to consent to the abortion, or the court provides informed written consent and the minor is having the abortion willingly.
After viability, an abortion may be performed only when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. State statute defines viability as when the life of the fetus may be continued indefinitely outside the womb by natural or artificial life support.
Other questions that have arisen in the wake of the ruling include:
Who Can Provide Abortion Services?
Providers that can perform abortions in Maine include State-licensed osteopathic and medical physicians, and, as of 2019, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses.
Are Abortion Services Covered by Health Insurance?
Maine requires state-regulated major medical insurers and MaineCare (Medicaid) to cover family planning services, abortion services, and pregnancy-related services. Limited exceptions exist for religious employers’ health insurance. MaineCare uses state general funds to support abortion services for low-income people covered by the program in instances when federal matching payments are not available. Federal Medicaid funding is available in the circumstances of rape, incest or if the patient’s life is in danger. The state does not have the authority to regulate self-funded health plans or Medicare.
Who Is Eligible for Health Insurance that Includes Abortion Services?
All residents are eligible to buy individual (non-group) health insurance that includes coverage of abortion services. People with income between 139 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are generally eligible for federal financial assistance to pay for individual coverage through CoverME.gov, if they do not have coverage through an employer. Certain people with lower incomes who do not qualify for MaineCare because of their immigration status can also receive financial help to purchase a plan through CoverME.gov. Since abortion services are excluded from the “essential health benefits” that health insurance companies are required to provide, and because of federal law explicitly prohibiting federal funding of abortion services, a separate monthly premium applies, usually not exceeding $1.
MaineCare covers all eligible residents with income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Additionally, MaineCare has a family planning option, aligned with its eligibility for coverage of pregnant people, that offers coverage to residents with income up to 214 percent of the federal poverty level. MaineCare also offers significant support for the full range of reproductive health services, including postpartum coverage for MaineCare members for 12 months after the birth of a child (effective August 1, 2022) and coverage of non-citizen pregnant people (effective July 1, 2022).
How Does Maine Promote Access to Services?
Maine requires state-regulated major medical insurers to cover telehealth and mail-order prescriptions, including abortion services. MaineCare permits telehealth prescribing and mail-order prescriptions as a means of increasing access to health care. MaineCare supports family planning clinics and many such clinics receive Federal grant funding through Title X.
Where Can I Find More Information on Abortion Services in Maine?
Individuals can find services in Maine using AbortionFinder.org.