AUGUSTA – A bill that would provide taxpayer funded abortions for elective abortions that are not deemed medically necessary was approved by the Maine State Senate in a 19-16 vote yesterday.
The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon at the request of
Governor Janet Mills, would for the first time provide taxpayer funded
abortions in Maine. Because federal law forbids federal tax dollars from paying
for abortions, in Maine abortions will be paid for with 100% state taxpayer
The vote broke mostly along party lines, with two Democrats, Senator
Michael Carpenter of Aroostook and Senator Bill Diamond of Windham, joining
with Republicans to oppose the bill. Senate President Troy Jackson led
Democrats in voting to approve the bill.
The bill, L.D. 820, uses a complicated legal argument to justify the funding. One part of the bill mandates all private health insurance companies cover abortion, while a separate section claims that because women who have private health insurance now have abortion coverage, women on taxpayer funded Medicaid must also be given coverage because they have an equal right to it and should not be ‘discriminated’ against.
The bill has already been approved by the Maine House, again
mostly along party lines. It will need to be voted on once more by each chamber
before being sent to Governor Janet Mills for her signature.
A “fiscal note” attached to the bill estimates the cost to Maine
taxpayers to be about $1.65 million.