The Maine Legislature is debating L.D. 1225, “An Act To Provide Dignity for Fetal Remains by Requiring Their Interment or Cremation.” As president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest organization of atheists who defend the separation of church and state, I oppose L.D. 1225.

Out of the 57 testimonies published on the Maine Legislatures’ website, 24 testimonials, or about 42%, opposed the bill for objective, factual, medical, and scientific reasons. Yet, appallingly, 33 testimonials, or about 58%, tried to defend L.D. 1225, without a shred of factual, objective evidence, relying instead on personally held religious beliefs.

Religious beliefs have no bearing on this discussion; considering any religious opinion means every, often contradictory religious view must be included. Moreover, a decision based on a religious argument, either for or against, would violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on favoring one religion over another. For this reason, not considering any religious opinion would be the most legally prudent position to take.

One testimony published on the Maine Legislatures’ website supporting L.D. 1225 relied on political division and inaccurate public opinion. This person claimed recent events suggest a potential rise of abortions in the next few years, given the leadership in Washington, D.C., and that abortion advocates have pushed for more and more access to abortion, even as public opinion clearly does not support them.

The above arguments are nothing but inflammatory rhetoric. Politicizing abortion only serves further to polarize an already politically divided state, and my research revealed Pew Research reported on May 6, 2021, that about 6 in 10 Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

This bill is not about providing dignity for fetal remains; it is just part of a nationwide attempt to end all abortions, primarily by evangelical Christians. They want to see their religious dogma become the law of the land, in direct violation of the Constitution’s separation clause of the First Amendment.

Barbara Alvarez, the Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, reports, “Since January 1, there have been a whopping 536 anti-science abortion restrictions — driven by religious ideology — introduced across 46 states. Alarmingly, 61 abortion restrictions have passed in 13 different states. In fact, between April 6 and April 29, 28 devastating restrictions were signed into law in seven states. If this rate continues, the United States could see the highest number of abortion restrictions passed since Roe v. Wade became a constitutional right in 1973.”

Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, the primary source for research and policy analysis on abortion in the United States, writes, “2021 is on track to become the most devastating anti-abortion state legislative session in decades,” and “The anti-abortion movement has long been an evidence-free zone, and many of its signature initiatives and proposals are devoid of any factual foundation.”

Do not be fooled by the misleading rhetorical claim that this bill provides dignity for “unborn children”, an oxymoron if I ever heard one. The truth is this wave of anti-abortion legislation sweeping the country is fueled by religious politicians whose goal is to create laws that will impose their personally held religious beliefs onto everyone else.

For these reasons, I urge you to contact your legislator and oppose L.D. 1225.

Tom Waddell is president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He welcomes comments at: [email protected]

 


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