by Steven Ertelt
May 16, 2007
Augusta, ME (LifeNews.com) — Residents of Maine can breathe a breath of fresh air because state legislator shave scrapped a bill that would have required them to spend their hard-earned tax money on abortions. Members of the Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously against the measure.
Abortion advocates brought the bill saying that poor women should be able to get abortions and that government has a responsibility to fund them.
But pro-life advocates fought back strongly with well-coordinated phone campaigns and rallies.
In a note to LifeNews.com, Maine Right to Life said the Senate could still take up LD#1309 and vote on but the House vote likely spells the death of the bill.
"Your phone calls, emails, letters and personal participation in the Rally and Public Hearing really made a difference," the group said.
Senate President Beth Edmonds, a Democrat, sponsored the measure, which would have required $283,000 each year to pay for abortions for women in the MaineCare system, the state’s version of Medicaid.
However, she told the Morning Sentinel newspaper that state lawmakers were not inclined to approve any bills authorizing new spending because of the state’s difficult financial situation.
"I’m disappointed," Edmonds said, "but I think (the committee) made the decision early in the session to not pass anything that was a new benefit that required funding."
That appears to be the case as Sen. Joseph Brannigan and Rep. Anne Perry, both Democrats who co-sponsored the measure, suggested the vote against it.
Marc Mutty, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, told the newspaper that the financial arguments helped but he also thought pro-life advocates did a good job of rallying against the measure.
"I think certainly it was made crystal clear we were adamant about this issue and we were going to press this aggressively," he said.
Kate Brogan, a spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association of Maine, echoed comments the ACLU made earlier in the debate that a court fight may take place to force the state to fund the abortions.
Mike Hein, administrator of the Christian Civic League, told the Morning Sentinel he’s ready to fight that fight if necessary.
"They kind of took a pass on this one," Hein said of lawmakers. "I suspect if it goes to the courts, it’s anybody’s guess."
The state already gives $1 million annually to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and abortion activists want to add to it.
MaineCare 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.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there are about 2,500 abortions annually in the state.