by Steven Ertelt
April 27, 2007
Augusta, ME (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life people from across Maine came to the state capitol on Thursday to voice their opposition to a bill that would use their tax money to pay for abortions for poor women. The state already gives $1 million annually to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and some legislature want to add to it.
Sen. President Beth Edmonds, a Democrat, is the sponsor of the measure, which would force residents there to spend $300,000 more on taxpayer funded abortions.
Edmonds touted her bill, LD 1309, saying "The lack of coverage for abortions is a roadblock for poor women."
Even though all abortions pose physical and mental health dangers for women, Edmonds said not forcing the state to pay for abortions would subject women to late-term abortions that are more dangerous.
The legislation would specifically appropriate $283,000 a year to fund a program to reimburse poor women for the cost of the abortion through the state’s Medicaid service.
The program, called MaineCare by the state, currently only pays for abortions in very rare cases of the life of the mother or rape and incest. The bill would expand that to cover all abortions.
Still, Edmonds told a meeting of the hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee that "This is not an expansion of MaineCare" but rather a "matter of equity and fairness."
During the hearing, a representative of Gov. John Baldacci said he supported the bill.
Dozens of pro-life advocates led by Bishop Richard Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Portland rallied on the capital steps and held saying they didn’t want their money used to pay for abortions.
Rita Feeney, executive director of the Maine Right to Life Committee, said her group strongly opposed the bill, the Bangor Daily News reported.
"This asks Maine taxpayers to pay for elective abortions against their will with their taxpayer dollars," she said. "It presumes that all unplanned pregnancies are unwanted pregnancies. This bill sets up financially strapped women for intense intimidation and bullying."
The newspaper said Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello, a Portland Republican, said she opposed the measure because it would put more strain on the state’s budget.
"We already have private funds available to accomplish … what this bill seeks to do," she said. "I worry about the huge budget gap we have and how we will balance the budget."
Pro-life advocates were upset that Bill Bliss, pastor of the Bath United Church of Christ, testifed in favor of the bill.
The bill has the support of pro-abortion groups such as the Family Planning Association of Maine and the Maine Women’s Lobby but pro-life groups like the Christian Civic League and the Catholic Diocese of Portland are joining Right to Life in opposing the bill.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there are about 2,500 abortions annually in the state.