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Editorial: Maine Lawmakers Should Drop Antiabortion-Rights Bill, Support 'Proactive' Women's Health Bill

Editorial: Maine Lawmakers Should Drop Antiabortion-Rights Bill, Support 'Proactive' Women's Health Bill

April 29, 2015 — Maine lawmakers should drop a disputed abortion clinic regulations bill (LD 1312) and instead pursue a "proactive measur[e] [LD 319] to protect women's health," according to a Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel editorial.

The editorial explains that state lawmakers currently are debating a bill that "would give the state Department of Health and Human Services enhanced authority to write rules for abortion clinics that could interfere with their operation." While the measure does not include any "specific regulations," requirements "created by the [state] DHHS could prevent women, especially low-income women," from accessing abortion services, the editorial states.

According to the editorial, state Rep. Deb Sanderson (R), the bill's sponsor, claims the measure aims "to protect women's health" and should therefore be considered by the state Committee on Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, "[t]he bill's opponents ... say that since the proposal has the potential to reduce access to abortion, it raises constitutional issues and should be considered" by the state Judiciary Committee. The measure "will die between chambers" if the state "House and Senate cannot agree" where it should be heard, the editorial states, adding that such a result "would be the best outcome."

The editorial contends that the measure "looks like a way to sneak abortion restrictions into the law under the guise of routine regulation" and "is too close to the approach used by anti-abortion lawmakers in other states to be taken at face value." The editorial urges state senators to "let this bill die" and instead support LD 319, which "would provide access to a variety of women's health services -- including high-quality birth control to low-income women" (Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, 4/28).