On March 27, I attended the public hearing on L.D. 820, “An Act to Prevent Discrimination in Private and Public Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women in Maine,” sponsored by my state representative, Jay McCreight.

I attended expecting to hear a succession of charged testimonies caught up in the broader abortion wars. And I did. But what I also heard were the moving personal testimonies of women whose access to legal abortion services was obstructed by their insurance companies’ refusal to cover these services, while covering all other aspects of pregnancy care.

I realized that this bill was first and foremost about equality and equal access to health care. L.D. 820 seeks to right an existing wrong, in which an insurance provider can choose whether or not to provide coverage for legal abortion.

We all know that the status quo most adversely impacts poor and low-income women and their families. Maine’s poorest women are the most disadvantaged and at risk by insurance providers’ denial of coverage of legal abortions, even in the extreme circumstances of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother’s life. These women must pay out of pocket for a service commonly covered for women with more expensive private insurance or with other means to afford this care.

Abortion is a constitutionally protected right in our country, and access to this right shouldn’t depend on a woman’s ability to pay. Passage of L.D. 820 will make clear that our state does not believe in one set of rules for some Mainers and another set of rules for others, based solely on their economic status.

Karen Tcheyan

Orrs Island

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