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National and Statewide Women’s Health Advocates Condemn LePage’s Veto of Affordable Health Care for Thousands of Women; Pledge to Fight for Override 

PORTLAND, Maine – Demonstrating just far he will go to oppose a woman’s ability to make personal decisions about her health care, today Governor Paul LePage vetoed a widely-supported, bipartisan bill that would have ensured up to 13,700 low-income women have access to a wide-range of preventive health services, including lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, testing and treatment for STDs, and sexual health information. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will be immediately mobilizing their more than 10,000 supporters to advocate for a legislative override of Governor LePage’s veto in order to create this important program, which will provide health care to women, generate significant cost savings for state taxpayers, and reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion.  Governor LePage’s veto is scheduled for a vote to override in the Legislature May 1.  The Maine Women’s Health Initiative (LD 1247) passed the Legislature in March with strong majority in both chambers.

“On Thursday, Planned Parenthood supporters across the state will be counting on their elected officials to stand up to Governor Paul LePage and push back against his extreme agenda to undermine women’s health,” said Nicole Clegg, director of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund  Maine.  “Here in Maine, across party lines, we believe in affordable basic health care, no matter how much money a woman makes.  It’s part of our fundamental belief that a woman and her doctor, not politicians, should be making health care decisions.”

Sponsored by Representative Jane Pringle of Windham, the Women’s Health Initiative directs the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a family planning state plan amendment (SPA) to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The SPA would provide publicly funded preventive health care to low-income adults and would be reimbursed by the federal government at a rate of $9 for every $1 of state funds. According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, 30 other states have similar programs, and these states have seen significant reductions in unintended pregnancy and associated costs.

“Governor Paul LePage put his own personal beliefs over women’s health when he vetoed this important measure and blocked cancer screenings, birth control and basic health care from the most vulnerable women in Maine,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  “We know the people of Maine want their leaders to protect women’s health, and they’ll be making their voices heard this week.”