Three bills that could encroach on bodily autonomy and reproductive rights in Maine are less likely to become law, after the state’s Legislative Judiciary Committee voted to recommend that the bills not be passed. The bills would make it harder for teens to access safe abortion care, would make it so patients could not opt out of certain “informed consent” materials, and would redefine what constitutes a viable fetus in the state’s legal code. The committee saw the bills as unnecessary governmental interference in personal decisions and settled law.
LD 1339 is a parental consent bill, while LD 760 is a bill that would change what information is required to be given to a patient prior to an abortion and would mandate that the patient receive the materials regardless of her situation or her doctor’s feelings about whether the materials are necessary or accurate; they were rejected for recommendation with 8-5 votes.
Of the bills being reviewed, LD 1139 was one could have most directly revamped legal statutes. Although bill sponsor Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) said her bill, which would allow someone to sue for wrongful death of a fetus, was not meant to challenge abortion rights, the bill’s attempt to redefine a 12-week-gestation fetus as “viable” was seen as an affront both to reproductive rights supporters and those who support medical and scientific accuracy. Volk amended her bill to change the “viability” definition to 24 weeks, to make it more in line with similar legislation in other states, but the move still did not get it support from the committee members, who recommended it “ought not to pass” by a tighter one-vote majority (7-6).
Despite the recommendations by the judiciary committee, the bills will still be up for debate and approval in a full floor vote. Both the state senate and house have Democratic majorities.