Since the Supreme Court all but overturned Roe v. Wade by allowing states to honor or deny a woman’s constitutional right to choose, freedom-loving abortion advocates are pushing back at the state level.

California, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina each acted to protect a woman’s right to an abortion in 2022. Some states allowed nurse practitioners and certified midwives to perform the procedure, while others required insurance plans that cover birth to provide abortion services. Other states voted to keep the right to an abortion in the state constitution, codified the right to abortion, or overturned the state’s abortion ban.

Maine was forward-thinking after Roe (1973) recognized a woman’s constitutional right to choose. In 1979 Maine passed the Freedom of Choice Act and reaffirmed that act in 1993. The Freedom of Choice Act ensures a woman can get an abortion even after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Maine also requires state Medicaid funds and private health insurance plans to cover abortion; allows qualified health care professionals, not just physicians, to provide abortions; and has policies that protect anyone working for or receiving services from an abortion clinic in place. Maine also protects abortion providers from legal actions taken by other states.

While Maine is near the top of states that protect a woman’s right to choose, its policies could be a little more robust. Setting aside state funds, exclusive of state funds for Medicare, to help patients pay for abortion care, and adopting a Maine constitutional amendment that protects abortion rights would guarantee women will retain the right to choose for the foreseeable future.

Last week, Gov. Janet Mills announced a series of proposals designed at strengthening the right to an abortion in Maine.

On the national level, the FDA recently allowed retail pharmacies to dispense abortion pills, and the U.S. Postal Service ruled retail pharmacies can mail abortion pill prescriptions.

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Before the FDA ruling, the abortion pill could only be prescribed by a physician working for a woman’s health center or abortion clinic and be dispensed by the same agency. While the pill can only be obtained with a physician’s prescription, the USPS ruling allows those pharmacies to mail the prescription to any state.

It is a given that Christian Nationalist legislatures in 26 states will work to overrule this federal law. In the past, federal laws applied to the states. However, now that we have six Christian Nationalists on the Supreme Court, it seems requiring states to follow federal law may be optional, depending on whether or not the federal law supports the Christian Nationalists’ agenda.

Unfortunately, conservative politicians are working on the national level to restrict a woman’s right to choose. The House recently passed H.R. 26, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The bill’s emotionally charged language is designed to make people assume that abortions often result in a live birth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only 1.4% of all abortions take place after a live birth is possible (21 weeks), and live births are exceptionally rare.

“The bill maligns and vilifies providers and patients to push a false narrative about abortion later in pregnancy,” said Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health. Specifically, the bill will force physicians to prolong the life of an extremely premature infant with extraordinary life-saving procedures even if there is no chance of survival.

What is even more absurd is this bill is completely unnecessary. The rights of infants born by any method, including after an attempted abortion, are already protected by a 2002 bipartisan law that established infants have all the human rights guaranteed by law to anyone. “The 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act gives absolutely every protection you would ever want or need for an infant born at any stage of development. In that situation, you want parents to be able to decide what the care for their child looks like,” said Dr. Lauren Wilson, a hospital pediatrician and the president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This bill will take away the very rights Dr. Wilson considers essential: the right of parents and physicians to decide what scientifically established medical procedures are appropriate. I cannot think of a worse example of the government forcing itself between a patient and their physician.

However, all is not doom and gloom. H.R. 26 passed the House, but it is doubtful the Senate will bring up the bill for a vote or pass it if it is.

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


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