Maine Legislature Rejects Bill Requiring Physicians To Advise Patients on Alternatives to Abortion

May 20, 2013 — A Maine legislative committee on Friday rejected a bill (LD 760) that would have required health care providers to provide patients with information on alternatives to abortion, the Bangor Daily News reports.

The bill and two other abortion-related measures drew more than six hours of public testimony on Thursday. On Friday, seven of the committee's eight Democrats voted against recommending the bills, after giving them little discussion. Four of the panel's five Republicans supported the measures (Cousins, Bangor Daily News, 5/18).

The bill -- sponsored by state Rep. Eleanor Espling (R) -- would also remove a provision in current law under which the information is only distributed if the patient requests it. Under the bill, health care workers would have to provide patients with "scientifically accurate information about the fetus," information about health benefits for which a pregnant woman might qualify and counseling about the father's liability for support.

Espling said that the law is "about women having all the information they need to make important decisions in their lives and not being denied access to information they need to make those decisions."

Megan Hannon -- director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England -- argued that the "sole intent of this bill is to shame, judge and confuse women." She added, "This bill would force doctors to tell women unnecessary, coercive information designed to change their minds about whether to end a pregnancy regardless of whether the patient wants the information" (Cousins, Bangor Daily News, 5/16).