Health Care Providers and Advocates Support Bill to End Discrimination in Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women
For Immediate Release: Feb. 14, 2019 (Updated: Feb. 14, 2019, 5:06 p.m.)
Women currently lack protections for medically necessary abortion
Currently a woman who must seek a medically necessary abortion to preserve her health has no protections in Maine law. A new bill to require coverage of legal abortion for public and private insurance if the plan covers prenatal care will ensure a woman can obtain an abortion if and when she needs it.
The bill was carefully drafted to include exemptions for religious employers consistent with current Maine law.
Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund
However we feel about abortion, we don’t want a law that stops people who need an abortion from getting one by actually preventing them from using their healthcare coverage. That’s what’s happening now and it doesn’t feel right. We can all have different feelings about abortion while still recognizing how important it is to make sure that a woman can afford to have one if she needs to.
Oamshri Amarasingham, Advocacy Director of the ACLU of Maine
Whether or not to have an abortion is an important decision that shouldn't depend on whether a person can afford one. We've been fighting in the courts for years to make sure people who qualify for Medicaid can get an abortion if they need one. Now the legislature has an opportunity to step up and protect abortion access for all Mainers, regardless of how much money you make.
Kate Brogan, Vice President for Public Affairs at Maine Family Planning
As providers, we talk to women every day who face challenges to access the abortion care they need. For women with low incomes, the financial challenge can seem insurmountable. We know that every woman’s experience with unintended pregnancy is different, and her decisions shouldn’t be influenced by what her health plan will cover. We all deserve health coverage that includes all medically necessary care; this legislation will be a dramatic step toward making that a reality for the women of Maine.
Eliza Townsend, Executive Director of the Maine Women's Lobby
Every Maine woman should be able to get the health care she needs, no matter the source of her insurance. That's why we strongly support LD 820 and ask legislators to approve it.
Andrea Irwin, Executive Director of Mabel Wadsworth Health Center
Covering most but not all pregnancy-related care is coercive. As a provider of comprehensive pregnancy care, including both abortion care and prenatal care, this distinction feels especially onerous. Nearly two-thirds of our clients need financial aid to help cover the cost of an abortion. We see the many hurdles people must clear to access abortion: having to miss work; arrange childcare; and find transportation. This harmful coverage ban places an additional roadblock by forcing people to scrape together funds, often resulting in a delay in getting the healthcare they need. A person’s right to decide to have an abortion shouldn’t depend on how much money they make or where they live.
The House has referred LD 820 An Act to Prevent Discrimination in Public and Private Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women in Maine to the Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee for further action.