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Yesterday Governor Janet Mills signed Speaker Sara Gideon’s bill making Maine the 8th state to allow trained and qualified advanced practice clinicians (APCs)  like nurse practitioners to provide medication and in-clinic abortions.

“Allowing advanced practice clinicians like nurse practitioners to provide abortion care means more Mainers will have access to high-quality care in their communities from medical professionals they trust,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “At a time when states across the country are banning and restricting access to safe and legal abortion, Maine is leading the way not only to protect the right to an abortion but to ensure abortion is accessible. For people facing structural barriers to health care, like people with low incomes, people of color, people living in rural areas, and people with disabilities, the legal right to an abortion matters little when you can’t access or afford the care you need. Today, Maine has taken a significant step towards empowering people to make a their own decisions about abortion with dignity and respect.”

Eleven other states allow APCs to provide abortion care in some capacity (e.g. a state may allow APCs to provide medication abortion but not in-office abortion or vice versa).

Data, including from the CDC, shows abortion has a 99 percent safety record, meaning fewer than one percent of abortions have complications. Peer-reviewed medical literature, including a recent four-year study of more than 11,000 abortion patients published in the American Journal of Public Health, uniformly confirms that nurse practitioners and other APCs can safely and effectively provide abortion care.

The Maine Medical Association voiced its support for the bill, and health organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, and the American Public Health Association support allowing nurse practitioners and other APCs to provide abortion care.

Currently there are three public providers in Maine that provide abortion care: Mabel Wadsworth Health Center, Maine Family Planning, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.  WIth the passage of LD 1261, providers will be able to offer comprehensive abortion care at 18 locations from Sanford to Fort Kent at times convenient for people seeking this care.

“Reproductive and sexual health care providers form deep trusting relationships with their patients that can span decades. From delivering babies to counseling infertility to any myriad of health care needs, women trust and count on their providers and they should be able to turn to them for care when considering an abortion,” said Donna Burkett, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Allowing women to seek care in their community from a provider they know and trust is a game-changer.”

In the past five months, 12 states have passed more than two dozen abortion bans. 303 bills attacking abortion have been filed in state legislatures across the country.

“Now more than ever, we need leaders across the country to fight back against the coordinated assault on our fundamental rights and freedoms we are seeing in states across the country. We applaud the leadership of Governor Mills and our champions in Maine for taking action to protect access to safe, legal abortion care in the face of unprecedented attacks from anti-women’s health politicians emboldened by the Trump Administration,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Reproductive health care should not be siloed, stigmatized, and treated differently than what it is: standard, essential health care. This law will help Mainers access the care they need, when they need it. This is exactly the type of leadership that women across America deserve.”

LD 1261 will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.