Maine Public story showcases how public policy affects patients and families
(Portland, MAINE) – Yesterday, the stories of two Maine women’s experiences with abortion later in pregnancy were featured in an article by Maine Public. In an in-depth look at abortion later in pregnancy and the harmful, real-world effects of legislative policies that restrict abortion and sexual and reproductive healthcare in Maine, this report featuring these stories appropriately counters the ill-informed, fear-based political narratives pushed by anti-abortion extremists.
As political rhetoric intensifies ahead of ongoing and upcoming candidate debates and the November election, it is important that news outlets and journalists scrutinize claims and language to ensure their coverage of sexual and reproductive healthcare including abortion remains grounded in science and is centered around Mainers’ lived experiences.
Maine Public’s Oct. 17 article, “A 15-week abortion ban would have overlooked these Maine mothers' pregnancy complications,” is an example of balanced coverage rooted in medical science and centered around stories of families affected by legislative policy.
Two Maine women, both mothers, both intending to grow their young families, both devastated by news they received later in their pregnancies, shared their stories with Maine Public:
Erin Wolf of Falmouth, Maine, a mother of two children at the time, learned when she was 18 weeks pregnant that her baby, Dylan, had a severe form of spina bifida and irreversible brain damage.
From the article:
“I think what people need to know is that it's not like you wake up one day and decide that you don't want to be pregnant at 25 weeks," Wolf says. "The later term abortions are for medical reasons. For the health of the fetus, or for the health of the mother. It's just most women don't find out about these huge problems with their pregnancies until after 15 weeks."
Dana Pierce of Yarmouth, Maine, at the time a mother of one, learned when she was 32 weeks pregnant that her son, Cameron, had a rare bone disorder called lethal skeletal dysplasia. This news came after she received normal test results at a 20-week checkup. During the time in-between the 20-week checkup and the 32-week checkup, Cameron suffered multiple broken bones.
Because Maine’s current law restricts abortion, a medical procedure, after viability (about 24 weeks, Dana and her husband had to travel to Colorado to end her child’s suffering and the pregnancy.
From the article:
"It's just so unnecessary and causes so much additional suffering," Peirce says. "It just baffles me that people want to make this worse, or think that abortion is OK, but not in the last trimester."
● Abortion later in pregnancy, though rare, most often occurs because patients and their families learn new information about their pregnancies. In addition, socioeconomic factors combined with laws that restrict abortion access delay care and cause unnecessary hardship for women, their pregnancies and their families.
● Restrictions applied to abortions later in pregnancy also impact how clinicians can care for and treat miscarriage and pregnancy loss.
Statement from Nicole Clegg, Chair of Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund PAC:
“Dana and Erin’s stories are heartbreaking, and they illustrate the reality that politicization of private medical procedures causes real harm to Maine families. Abortion is a medical procedure. It is an essential piece of comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare. As we learned from Dana and Erin, patients, their partners and their families sometimes have to make excruciating decisions when they learn new information later in pregnancy, and those decisions must be left up to the patients, their partners and families and trusted healthcare providers.
Politicians have no business interfering in sexual and reproductive healthcare, Mainers understand this. That’s why Maine voters defeated a ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion” via ballot measure in 1999. It’s why polling continues to show Mainers want the right to abortion. It’s why we all need to listen to people like Dana and Erin when they share their stories, and why we should think about them when we vote in November.”
The Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund Political Action Committee promotes and preserves a health care landscape and a political climate favorable to women’s health by working to identify and elect supportive candidates seeking executive and legislative offices. The PPMEAF PAC is operated by the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Maine. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.