If there was any doubt where the U.S. Supreme Court is headed on abortion law, it was dispelled Tuesday.

In ruling that medical abortion pills can’t be delivered by mail even during a pandemic, the six Republican-nominated justices made clear that they don’t believe that abortion should be treated like other medical procedures. The majority upheld a special level of restriction despite the fact that chemically induced abortions are known to be safe.

Whether this anti-abortion supermajority will seek to completely overturn the landmark 1971 decision Roe v. Wade, or hollow out Roe with a series of decisions that let states limit reproductive rights in different ways, the question of who can get an abortion and under what circumstances is likely to become an issue for the states.

What that might look like is on display in the Maine Legislature, where an unusually high number of abortion-related bills have been submitted. The language of the proposed bills is not yet available, but their titles suggest they are designed to create obstacles, either financial or bureaucratic, for women seeking abortions, and force doctors to read scripts to their patients that may not be true or that don’t reflect their best medical advice.

The titles include:

 • An Act To Provide Dignity for Fetal Remains.

• An Act To Ensure Equality in Women’s Health Care Access in Maine by Requiring Facilities Providing Abortions To Inform Patients of Options and Alternatives.

• An Act To Ensure Women Are Informed of Abortion Pill Reversal.

• An Act To Prohibit Taxpayer Funding for Elective Abortions.

These and other bills are flooding state legislatures around the country, anticipating a green light from the Supreme Court.

Mainers don’t have to worry just yet. Restricting abortion rights is still a minority position in the state, and it seems unlikely that there are enough votes in the Legislature to pass bills like this, or override what would be a veto by Gov. Mills. In the last two years Maine has passed laws that help people access and pay for abortion services, and that is not going to change with the current roster of elected officials.

But what will happen is that these new bills will be subject to public hearings and emotional debate that will require lawmakers to devote energy and attention to issues that have nothing to do with COVID or economic recovery, issues that directly affect the lives of most Mainers.

The sponsors of these long-shot bills should consider withdrawing them now. A pandemic is no time to make health care more expensive or harder to access.

These lawmakers should look for more constructive ways to serve their constituents over the next two years.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.