In a significant step for reproductive rights in Maine, the state Senate today voted 19-16 to end Maine’s outdated law banning qualified and trained nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians (APCs) from providing abortion care. Earlier this week the House voted 74-58 in favor of the governor’s bill, sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon.
The ACLU of Maine, Mabel Wadsworth Center, Maine Family Planning, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England hailed the historic vote, saying the bill, LD 1261, will help ensure all Mainers have access to safe abortion care from qualified, trusted providers in their communities.
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 endorsed the bill, and national 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. Trained clinicians have been doing so in other states - including New Hampshire and Vermont - for decades. Currently, nurse practitioners and other APCs in Maine provide a wide range of health services of equal or greater complexity than abortion care.
The bill faces final votes in both chambers before it will be sent to the governor.
The following quotes can be attributed as noted:
Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
Yesterday at rallies across the state Mainers added their voices to the millions of Americans opposing politicians’ attempts to restrict and end access to safe and legal abortion. Quite simply, voters are done with lawmakers using our health, our bodies, and our lives for political games. As more and more states pass laws stripping away access to reproductive health care, Maine legislators are passing bills increasing access to abortion care by guaranteeing healthcare coverage for abortion and ending outdated, medically unnecessary rules that prevent qualified, trained healthcare practitioners from providing care to their patients. This is what leadership looks like.
Oamshri Amarasingham, Advocacy Director, ACLU of Maine
As other states pass laws outlawing abortion, Maine legislators are stepping up to protect the health and well-being of individuals and families in our great state. This bill will help eliminate a significant barrier to abortion access in Maine and ensure that each of us can make decisions about our health and our future without political interference.
Kate Brogan, Vice President for Public Affairs at Maine Family Planning
With this vote, Maine lawmakers are listening to medical experts and increasing meaningful access to critical health care. There is no medical reason why nurse practitioners and other Advanced Practice Clinicians shouldn’t be able to provide abortion care to patients in their communities. We are pleased that Maine lawmakers recognize that politics has no place in the exam room.
Andrea Irwin, Executive Director, Mabel Wadsworth Center
Ending this outdated ban will have a profound impact on our community. Since we began providing abortion care in 1994, this ban has restricted access, even forcing us to unnecessarily delay patients’ care in some cases. The legislature has sent a clear signal – Mainers value reproductive rights and trust women to know what is best for our health and lives.