by Steven Ertelt
May 9, 2007
Augusta, ME (LifeNews.com) — Pro-abortion groups in Maine are threatening to sue the state if the legislature fails to approve a bill that would increase taxpayer funding for abortions for poor women. The state already gives $1 million annually to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and abortion activists 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.
In an attempt to threaten lawmakers and coerce them into supporting the bill, the Maine Civil Liberties Union has warned it would sue if the measure dies.
The group sent a four page letter to the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health and Human Services that was submitted at a hearing on the bill at the end of last month.
The letter says the Maine abortion law preventing direct abortion funding is unconstitutional and a violation of the equal protection clause for women. The group alleges that not funding abortions constitutes "gender-based discrimination" and "discrimination among the classes."
Mike Hein at The Christian Civic League of Maine says his group disagrees with the analysis and challenged the pro-abortion law firm to make the letter available on its website, which it has not done.
The bill was scheduled last week for a work session, but it was postponed without explanation or a specified future date given.
Even though all abortions pose physical and mental health dangers for women, bill sponsor Edmonds has 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 last month 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 Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there are about 2,500 abortions annually in the state.