The issue of abortion access and reproductive freedom is near and dear to my heart as a young woman. That’s why on Saturday morning, I will be joining Mainers from around the state to protest recent attacks on reproductive health care rights and say loud and clear that Maine will not move backward when it comes to a person’s right to access abortion and control their own body.

Over the years, so much talk about abortion has been about the most dire stories – cases of sexual assault and abuse, ectopic or other unsafe pregnancies, sudden health complications in otherwise-wanted pregnancies. But access to abortion is about so much more than those tragedies. I’m sure so many people you know have stories of birth control failing, of missed periods, of hearing their partner say, “It broke.”

I have driven friends to get abortions. I’m sure many of you have, too. Or maybe you’ve had to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask a friend for help, and felt the relief of being told, “I’m here for you. Of course I’ll help you.”

Abortion is health care, and health care is a human right.

Roe v. Wade was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago, however, we’re still fighting this battle, so clearly this bears repeating: Abortion is health care, and health care is a human right.

Right now, in our country, even families who are prepared to start a family are facing an incredible burden. Half of Americans still rely on their employers to cover their health insurance. This year in the Maine Legislature, thanks to a bill from my colleague Sen. Anne Carney, we expanded MaineCare coverage for new mothers to 12 months after birth – but before that, coverage lasted just 60 days. Ask any parent about how hard it is to find child care right now, and then ask them how much it costs even when they can find it. Ask new parents about their hospital bill or the cost of buying new clothes, baby food, formula, cribs, car seats, strollers, diapers.


More than 120 countries have laws requiring paid maternity leave. The U.S. is not one of them. During my time in the Legislature, I’ve been fighting for Maine to have a paid family leave policy. Just this year, we were able to pass a bill to form a commission to study how to create such a policy. While I’m excited about this progress, I know we’re still a ways off from having paid parental leave for all Maine workers. And I know it’s long, long past due.

Throughout all of this, there are still politicians who want to control your body and restrict your access to abortion. There are still stodgy pundits – most of whom will never have to figure out what to do about an unexpected, unwanted or unsafe pregnancy – trying to ban a totally safe, normal medical procedure, decades after the Supreme Court said you have a right to it.

I’ve heard my fair share of breathless speeches in the State House about how terrible abortions are. Politicians who want to ban abortion may claim they want to protect life, but then they turn around and vote against measures that would help lower the cost of prescription drugs. They hem and haw about exactly what kind of mother will be covered by MaineCare. They worry about how much it will cost to give free meals to all students, or even if we should provide free tampons in public school bathrooms. Their arguments, while emotional, are simply not grounded in reality, and their votes on other policy matters show their true colors. It’s not about life; it’s about control.

I believe people should have control over their own lives and their own bodies. I believe that the freedom to choose when and if to get an abortion is fundamental. I believe that abortion is health care, and health care is a human right.

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