Governor Mills Introduces Legislation to Increase Access to Critical Reproductive Health Care for Women

March 14, 2019

Governor Janet Mills today introduced a bill to improve access to critical reproductive health care for women across Maine. The bill, sponsored by Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, would allow a physician assistant or an advanced practice registered nurse to perform abortions. As Attorney General, Governor Mills introduced a similar bill during the last legislative session.

“Every woman in Maine should be able to access reproductive health care when and where she needs it, regardless of her zip code,” said Governor Mills. “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. It is time to remedy this inequity that negatively impacts too many Maine women.”

“No matter where they live, every woman has the right to safely make her own health decisions and to control her own future,” said Speaker Gideon. “I’m proud to sponsor this bill which will finally correct an outdated law that severely limits safe access to abortion. 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. The time to move forward is now, Maine women should not have to wait any longer.”

LD 1261 "An Act To Authorize Certain Health Care Professionals To Perform Abortions" would allow a physician assistant, an advanced practice registered nurse, allopathic or osteopathic physician licensed as such in Maine to perform abortions. Current Maine law bans Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs), including Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants from providing abortion care while citing no medical justification. Due to this law, there are only three publicly accessible health centers in Maine where a woman can get an in-clinic abortion. As a result, women in rural areas of the state are sometimes required to travel hours for reproductive care, despite the presence of qualified, experienced practitioners in their own communities..

Numerous health organizations from the World Health Organization, to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association support allowing advanced practice clinicians to perform abortion services.