Governor Mills, Senate President Jackson & Speaker Talbot Ross Announce Legislation to Strengthen Maine’s Reproductive Health Care Laws

Inspired by the experience of Yarmouth resident Dana Peirce, legislation seeks to ensure that Maine people are able to access reproductive health care they need, when they need it

Governor Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson, and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross today 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, “away from our home, our daughter and our support systems,” she wrote in a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed.

The Governor’s bill announced today, 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 decision to have an abortion is deeply personal and, as in Dana’s case, can be heartbreaking. Fundamentally, these are decisions that should be made by a woman and her medical provider,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine’s abortion laws are strong, but Dana’s painful experience shows us that there is more we can do to protect and support Maine people seeking abortion care. No Maine person should have to leave our state, the comfort of their family or friends, and have to potentially spend thousands of dollars just to access the care they need. This bill removes barriers to care and makes clear that, in Maine, the decision to have an abortion is for a woman and her medical provider to make.”

“The right to decide if and when to start a family is fundamental to who we are as Americans. It’s a deeply personal decision that does not belong to the government or a politically motivated Supreme Court – it belongs to Mainers,” said President Jackson. “But I know it is not enough for lawmakers to say we have Mainers’ backs – actions speak louder than words. It’s why I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in support of a slate of legislation to strengthen reproductive health care laws and defend Mainers’ rights.”

“Abortion care is medical care, yet across the country fundamental rights and freedoms are being taken away or restricted at an alarming rate,” said Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross. “But the opposite is happening here in Maine. We are serving as a light that inspires others around the country by protecting those who need it and showing exactly how to fight back. And this work is far from over. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that reproductive health care and family planning is affordable and accessible in every part of the state.”

The legislation was unveiled ahead of Sunday, January 22, which should 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.

The Governor also announced that she would light a candle in the window of the Blaine House on Sunday, January 22nd – what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – to shine a light on her continued commitment to protecting reproductive health care in Maine. The Governor encouraged people across Maine to join her.

In Maine, Governor Mills, Senate President Jackson, and Speaker Talbot Ross have fought to protect and expand access to abortion, passing laws that prevent protestors from blocking health clinics, that require public and private insurance coverage of abortion services and that made those services available to people in rural and urban areas of Maine.