Governor Mills has signed a bill into law that will put decisions about late-term abortions into the hands of doctors and patients.

How Does the New Law Change Abortion Access?

The bill, 'An Act to Improve Maine's Reproductive Privacy Laws,' was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Mills, who says the decision was supported by religious leaders, medical professionals, reproductive health care experts, and others. It's a clarification of the state's current law, 'the Reproductive Privacy Act' which had allowed for abortion later in pregnancy to "preserve the life or health of the mother." Mills says this new legislation will remove the inflexible limitations from law and put the personal decision into the hands of the woman in consultation with her doctor.

The new law will also eliminate language in current laws that subjects medical providers who perform abortions to criminal penalties under certain circumstances, instead regulating abortions like other safe, legal medical procedures. Governor Mills says it's a big step in affirming women's reproductive rights.

Today, the State of Maine is following best medical practices by modernizing our laws to get politicians out of reproductive health care and to make clear that the difficult decision of whether to have an abortion later in pregnancy will be made by a woman and her doctor - not anyone else.

She says it's time for Maine laws to recognize the fact that every pregnancy, like every woman, is different.

In What Type of Situation Might This Law Come Into Practice?

The law was inspired by the story of a Yarmouth woman, Dana Pierce, who had to get an abortion out of state after learning, in her 32nd week of pregnancy, that her unborn child was suffering from a deadly form of skeletal dysplasia, which is a rare, random genetic mutation.

He had multiple broken bones and, if he survived until delivery, he would not have been able to breathe outside of me. In this moment of shock and grief, my doctors here in Maine could not help us, because state law, at the time, banned abortions later in pregnancy.

Pierce says she had to travel across the country, at her expense, and pay $25,000 for the abortion alone, in order to end the pregnancy. Or, as she put it, "end her son's suffering." She says she's very grateful to Governor Mills for her decision to support this new legislation.

What Prompted the Governor to Support the Bill?

Governor Mills says she signed this and several other bills into law this week, in an effort to protect access to abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade. She says that since that move by the court, 1 in 3 Americans has lost the right to an abortion in their home state. Find a list of those other new reproductive rights laws on the Governor's website.

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