Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, 1 in 3 Americans have lost the right to access an abortion in their home state. Across the country, state legislatures are enacting laws that restrict access to essential reproductive health care. Here in Maine, we’ve seen a significant number of bills targeting reproductive health care. These bills would replace sound medical judgment with proposals that are not based in science and go against professional standards of care, such as those established by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Academy of Pediatricians.

Anne Carney

It is critical that we take steps to protect our reproductive rights and freedoms. On Monday, May 1, the Judiciary Committee, which I chair, conducted a marathon public hearing on LD 1619, “An Act to Improve Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Laws.”

Gov. Janet Mills proposed the bill, and nearly 100 of my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate co-sponsored it. Throughout the day, evening, night and early the next morning, my colleagues and I listened to the hundreds of Mainers who shared their religious beliefs, personal stories and thoughts about abortion.

The story of Dana Peirce inspired this legislation that would expand access to – and decriminalize – vital reproductive health care in Maine. People learn new information later in their pregnancy that could not have been known in early pregnancy, including information about fetal or maternal health issues. At 32 weeks, Dana got a sonogram, and her doctor noticed that something was very wrong. Dana’s son had a deadly form of skeletal dysplasia, which is a rare genetic mutation. She faced a heartbreaking situation, as the condition caused Dana’s son’s bones to break and his ribcage to crush his organs.

Maine law prevented Dana from getting an abortion. Instead, she had to pay $40,000 and travel across the country to Colorado to access the reproductive health care that she needed. This story, along with the many stories that the Judiciary Committee listened to, highlights the pain and trauma that can result from a lack of access to reproductive health care. At the very least, our laws should not make hard medical decisions more painful and traumatic for the patient.

LD 1619 would ensure that no Mainer has to endure the same physical, emotional, psychological and financial pain that Dana and her family did in order to receive the reproductive health care they need. The bill would make clear that the decision about having an abortion later in a pregnancy will be made by qualified medical professionals and their patients, ensuring that trusted medical providers can offer the care that their patients need. No politician or judge can replace the sound decisions patients and doctors make when complex medical conditions arise and expectant parents have to make difficult and heartbreaking decisions. Just as with other medical procedures, doctors will offer care that meets the needs of their patients and complies with standards of care overseen by hospitals and professional licensing boards.


During the hearing on LD 1619, it was clear that many critics of the bill misunderstand abortion care. Abortion is a safe medical procedure. The vast majority occur early in pregnancy, usually through 12 weeks gestation. In Maine, 92 percent of all abortions take place by this point; nearly 70 percent of all abortions occur before 9 weeks.

Nationwide, abortions at or after 21 weeks – like Dana’s – are incredibly uncommon. In fact, these abortions represent just one percent of abortions in the United States. The testimony at the public hearing on LD 1619 showed that every pregnancy is unique, and reproductive health care is complex and deeply personal. It helped me understand how a law focusing on care that is necessary in the professional judgment of a physician, in consultation with a patient, will better serve Maine patients and families.

I am grateful to Dana for sharing her personal story and helping lawmakers craft better laws and policies to meet the needs of future Danas. I am grateful to Gov. Mills and my Democratic colleagues for committing to protecting access to reproductive health care in Maine, and I am deeply appreciative of everyone who showed up to participate in the legislative process.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which consists of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. She can be reached at 207-287-1515 or [email protected]

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