Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union appeared before the Maine Supreme Court on Wednesday to argue that state taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortions.
The Portland Press Herald reports the pro-abortion legal group argued that because the state Medicaid program pays for prenatal care and childbirth for low-income women, it also should pay for abortions.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of Planned Parenthood and two other Maine abortion businesses. A lower court ruled against the case last year, but the ACLU appealed to the state Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Zach Heiden, legal director for the ACLU of Maine, argued that the state is violating women’s “constitutional right” by not paying for abortions, according to Maine Public Radio.
“A woman who is pregnant is going to need medical care,” Heiden said. “And she has before her two constitutionally protected, mutually exclusive options. The state funds one of those options completely. But for the other option, it tells women they’re on their own. … [It’s] placing a thumb on the scale of a highly personal decision, one that should be made without any state interference.”
But Maine Deputy Attorney General Susan Herman argued otherwise, pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court decision about the Hyde Amendment. The amendment prohibits federal Medicaid funds from being spent to abort unborn babies in all but a few situations. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in Harris v. McRae that states may prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions through Medicaid.
Herman said Maine state regulations are “consistent” with federal funding restrictions in Medicaid.
Some of the judges also seemed skeptical about the ACLU’s argument.
Here’s more from the report:
Justice Ellen Gorman challenged that assertion.
“If it is so clear, Mr. Heiden, as you suggest, how is it that these regulations have stood in the face of multiple legislative events, and have not been changed.”
Heiden reiterated that the law is clear, which explains why the legislature hasn’t taken action. That’s also why, Heiden said, the issue is now in the hands of the Maine Supreme Court to make sure the law is enforced.
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MaineCare does cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or risks to the life of the mother.
Polls consistently show that most Americans do not want their tax dollars to pay for unborn babies to be aborted. A Marist poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, including a majority of women and people who identify as pro-choice.
In October 2016, a Politico/Harvard University poll also found that just 36 percent of likely voters supported taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.
Americans understand that their tax dollars would be better spent helping struggling mothers and their families, not pushing them to abort their unborn babies.