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Maine to protect abortion patients, providers from restrictive states

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Lily Bohlke

(Maine News Service) The legal status of abortion in various states is changing day-to-day with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but Maine is among those taking action to protect people who may now have to travel to access an abortion.

Maine Governor Janet Mills this week signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from cooperating with another state's investigation into a person, organization or health care provider for delivering abortion care.

Mareisa Weil, vice president of development and community engagement for Maine Family Planning, said abortion clinics throughout the state are already fielding calls from people in abortion-hostile states, inquiring about the possibility of coming to Maine for care.  

"We just don't know yet what the scale of that is going to be," Weil observed. "Because Maine is a pretty remote state, it's not the easiest state to get in and out of. So there are some other abortion-friendly states that patients might be able to access a little bit easier in terms of flights and cost of travel. "

Weil added abortion clinics in the last few years have scaled up their telehealth programs, for prescribing abortion pills but also for other aspects of sexual and reproductive care, such as uncomplicated urinary tract infections or birth-control visits. 

Weil added MaineCare does cover abortions. Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare also has a helpline to answer any questions about insurance coverage at 1-800-965-7476.

"If we do not keep representatives at the Statehouse who are committed to reproductive justice, choice and privacy, we can easily lose the rights that we have fought so hard for here in Maine," Weil stressed. "People's civic engagement at this time is extremely important."

Abortion already is illegal in nine states: Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, and South Carolina. And in Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Mississippi, it is soon to be illegal.