Abortion access in Maine will not be changing for now in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Roughly half of states have been poised to ban or restrict abortion access in the event that the case’s precedent was overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That outcome is all but certain after the high court released its anticipated decision 5-4 in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case, upholding a 15 week ban on abortions in Mississippi and sending the decision of whether abortion is allowed back to the states.
Maine has some of the strongest abortion rights laws in the country, which started when Roe v. Wade was codified into state law in 1994 by then-Gov. John McKernan, a Republican. That is unlikely to change unless there are significant shifts in the Democratic-controlled Legislature in the 2022 election.
Gov. Janet Mills vowed to protect those rights immediately after the decision was released. She faces reelection this year against former Gov. Paul LePage, an anti-abortion Republican who placed the economy at the front of his challenge to Mills.
Maine allows for abortions up until the point of fetus viability, which is typically considered to be around 24 weeks, with exceptions past that if the parent’s life is in danger. The state now requires private insurance and Medicaid to cover abortions under a 2019 law backed by Mills.
Minors are allowed to get abortions with 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 family member or guardian is not required if any of the latter options are granted. They must consent to an abortion, unless their life is in danger.
Republicans will likely try to slowly chip away at those laws next year if they win control of Augusta. That could include rolling back abortion-rights expansions under Mills, although Maine has polled as one of the states most supportive of abortion rights.
The Legislature has been supportive of abortion rights under Democratic control, with two-thirds of the party’s members getting 100 percent scores from the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, a campaign arm of the organization’s New England chapter. Maine’s legislative races are expected to be tight this year during a midterm election for President Joe Biden.