Two bills aimed at expanding abortion access in Maine take effect Thursday, a day after anti-abortion activists announced they fell short of getting enough signatures to continue their effort to repeal the measures.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the two bills in June. One requires that all insurance plans in the state covering prenatal care also cover abortion care. The other overturns a ban on qualified nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians providing abortion care.
“While anti-choice politicians around the nation are passing laws to chip away at our rights, Maine is moving forward toward a more just and equitable state,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Maine branch. She was referring to the more than half a dozen states that have passed strict anti-abortion legislation in recent months.
Maine joins several other states that have passed legislation to protect or expand abortion rights.
The Christian Civic League of Maine, one of the groups conducting the signature campaigns that sought to put the bills up for a statewide vote, said it will refocus its efforts on upcoming elections.
“While some may celebrate our inability to reach these political achievements, our goal all along has simply been to save lives,” the group said in a statement.
Maine becomes only the second state with a law allowing non-doctors to perform abortions; California is the other. Idaho, Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona, meanwhile, have laws explicitly banning the practice.
The bill focused on insurance, reproductive health advocates said, helps ensure that abortion is accessible to women at every income level.
“A right isn’t a right if you can’t access it,” Nicole Clegg, the vice president of public policy for the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, said earlier this year.
Though President Donald Trump has applauded the anti-abortion bills passed in Alabama and other states, his campaign still has an eye on winning all of Maine’s four electoral votes in 2020 (he won one in 2016 by carrying its 2nd Congressional District while losing the overall state vote). His team already has campaign workers based there, Time reported, with the hope that they can turn the state red by luring Libertarian voters.