AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine has a liberal set of abortion laws that would survive if Roe v. Wade was overturned unless there is a major political shift here.
A leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision showing a conservative majority poised to throw out the landmark decision and other related precedents would mean states would set their own rules about whether to allow abortion and under what circumstances.
Roughly half of states are likely to severely restrict abortions if Roe is thrown out, including 13 states with so-called “trigger laws,” according to the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute. Maine has some of the strongest abortion protections in the nation. They would continue under Democratic leadership in Augusta, while Republicans may look to roll them back.
Here are some of the key abortion policies in the state.
Up to how many weeks is an abortion available?
Abortions are allowed in Maine up to the point of viability of the fetus, which is defined in state law as when a child could survive outside the womb on its own or with life support. Viability is generally considered to begin at 24 weeks. There are exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger. It is a class D crime to provide an abortion past the point of viability.
What are the laws around minors having an abortion?
State law allows for minors to get abortions if they have the informed, written consent of a parent, guardian or adult family member, a judge, or a licensed provider such as a doctor, nurse or counselor who has provided counseling.
A parent or guardian’s consent is not required if the latter two options are pursued. State law prohibits this information from being released to any parties without the minor’s permission. A minor must also consent to an abortion. The only exception to that is when their life is in danger.
What is the Legislature’s stance on abortion?
The Legislature has been pro-abortion rights under Gov. Janet Mills, according to legislative scorecards compiled by the campaign arm of Planned Parenthood, a pro-abortion rights organization. This is because both the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate have been controlled by Democrats since the 2018 election.
Maine Republicans regularly propose abortion restrictions in the Legislature that have been shot down in recent years. They did not move restrictions forward when they last controlled Augusta after the 2010 election. The Maine Republican party has adopted a formal policy plank outlining their anti-abortion stance.
What changes to the law have happened recently?
Perhaps the most significant change in recent years is the Legislature’s decision to cover abortion under MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, in 2019. The law changed after a court case challenging a Department of Health and Human Services rule forbidding public coverage of the practice. It also required private insurance carriers who provide prenatal care to cover abortion while leaving room for exceptions for religious employers.
Another recent development was a law allowing nurse practitioners and other qualified non-doctors to perform abortions, a law put forward by Mills in 2019.