Maine taxpayers soon may be forced to pay for elective abortions after the state Senate approved a pro-abortion bill Tuesday.
State House Bill 594 passed in a 19-16 vote, with all the Republicans and two Democrats voting against it, Bangor Daily News reports. The bill already passed the state House earlier this month, and pro-abortion Democratic Gov. Janet Mills supports it.
WABI TV reports state taxpayers would pay an estimated $375,000 for abortions annually if the bill becomes law.
Sponsored by state Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, the bill would force taxpayers to fund elective abortions through the state Medicaid program, MaineCare. It also would force private insurance plans to cover abortions if they also cover prenatal care, with very limited exemptions for religious employers.
McCreight argued that the bill is a matter of equality, saying a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions restricts “those with lower incomes from accessing the care that is available to those with higher incomes.” He said the current ban is basically “discrimination.”
But some of the strongest push-back against the proposal came from female lawmakers.
“Maine people should not be forced to have their hard-earned tax dollars used to take the life of a living pre-born child,” said state Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Oxford, according to the report.
Keim said the bill also would infringe on Maine residents’ religious liberty.
During the House debate, state Rep. MaryAnne Kinney, R-Knox, said abortions are not health care and should not be taxpayer funded, the Press Herald reports.
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“This is not about health care,” Kinney said. “A life is taken every time an abortion is performed. And just because it’s legal does not make it right. It’s an extreme form of birth control.”
State Rep. Richard Pickett, R-Dixfield, also noted that he had not heard a single testimony from a Maine woman who was not able to get an abortion due to the ban on taxpayer funding.
Polls consistently show that most Americans do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortions. A recent national poll by Marist University found that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, while 39 percent support them. Similarly, a 2016 Politico/Harvard University poll found that just 36 percent of likely voters support taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent are opposed.
Currently, 15 states force taxpayers to fund elective abortions through their state Medicaid programs, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In November, West Virginia voters passed a constitutional amendment to stop taxpayer-funded abortions in their state. Meanwhile, abortion activists are suing the state of Pennsylvania to overturn its ban on taxpayer-funded abortions.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from funding abortions, except in limited circumstances, but it does not prohibit states from using their own tax dollars to fund abortions through the program.
ACTION: Contact Maine Gov. Janet Mills.