AUGUSTA – Some Maine lawmakers are scratching their heads over the introduction of an “emergency” proposal in Augusta early in this second half of Maine’s 128th Legislature.
Historically, the second year of a Maine Legislative Session is reserved for emergency proposals, financial and budget bills to keep the state running, bills introduced by the sitting Governor and proposals carried over from the previous session.
The definition of “emergency” is historically a low and moving target, dependent upon a majority vote of the ten-member Legislative council to get a
State Representative Joyce “Jay” McCreight. Photo courtesy Rep. McCreight’s public Facebook page.
bill introduced to the full legislature in the shorter session. But that does not stop the taxpayers of Maine, and some of their elected representatives, from wondering just why they are dealing with some issues that are questionable as emergencies.
Currently only licensed physicians are permitted to perform abortions under Maine law.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McCreight, who represents Harpswell, West Bath and part of Brunswick, and submitted with the assistance of Attorney General Janet Mills, strikes language in current law that requires abortions be performed by a physician in favor of “medical professionals”, which the bill redefines to include physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses.
The bill also changes the informed consent section of Maine’s abortion laws to allow the same medical professionals to make informed consent judgments for providing abortions to minor children without the consent of their parents or guardians.
As of 2014, there were nine providers providing abortion services in Maine, with four of those nine being classified as “clinics” according to the Guttmacher Institute, who defines a “clinic” as a facility that performs abortions as more than half of all patient visits. Guttmacher reports that in that year, more than 2,200 abortions were performed in Maine.
One of the biggest challenges Maine faces is that according to United States Census estimates, only two of Maine’s sixteen counties saw more births than deaths in 2016, which has prompted some elected officials to call for further liberalizing immigration restrictions and spending taxpayer funding to attract and support immigrants and refugees from other countries.
Maine’s official population projections say Maine will see almost a 2% decline in population through 2034, citing a lack of births as one of the major reasons Maine struggles with population growth and the cause of Maine being the oldest state in the nation, with a median age of 44.5 years old.
In November 2016, the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management projected more than 400 of Maine’s cities and towns will see population losses through the year 2034, and only one of Maine’s five largest cities, South Portland, would see population growth in that time period.