About a dozen people each year in Maine require an abortion after fetal viability — roughly 24 weeks, a limit long written into state law — almost always due to a fatal diagnosis for the fetus.

That represents just 0.5% of the abortions sought in Maine each year. Yet for some of these individuals and their families, lack of access to the procedure levies an enormous cost, both financial and emotional, on top of already heartbreaking circumstances.

A bill proposed by Gov. Janet Mills would fix that by allowing abortions after viability “when necessary in the professional judgment of the health care professional.” Republicans in the State House call the proposal “extreme.”

We call it compassionate — and in step with what Mainers have supported for years.

Critics also say that Mills is breaking her campaign promise not to expand abortion rights.

On that, they are right — the governor’s bill certainly expands access to abortion, however limited and called for it may be.


For some, that may call into question the governor’s honesty, something Mills will have to contend with in the future. But it’s no reason to reject modest, thoughtful and necessary changes to Maine law on an issue that a clear majority of Mainers support.

Unlike the rhetoric coming from anti-abortion lawmakers, the bill from Mills, along with three others proposed by Democratic lawmakers, grapples with the biological and moral complexity of abortion. The proposals try to fulfill the spirit of the state law by making abortion accessible to any Maine resident who needs one, regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

The bill from Mills would allow an abortion to be performed past fetal viability in the rare times when doing so shows grace and mercy.

In announcing the bill, the governor cited the case of Dana Peirce of North Yarmouth, whose routine ultrasound in the 32nd week of pregnancy found a rare and deadly genetic mutation in the child she and her husband had already named Cameron.

“Since his normal 20-week anatomy scan,” Peirce wrote in an op-ed last year, “he had broken several bones, and his rib cage was too small for his lungs to fill with air. Cameron was suffering, and if he survived birth, he would not be able to breathe.”

In order to end Cameron’s suffering, Peirce was forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have the procedure out of state, away from her home and support system. In cases like Peirce’s, all Maine law does is pile heartbreak onto heartbreak.


No one should have to make that choice.

And, let’s not forget, not everyone could — those who couldn’t afford to travel would have no choice but to carry that doomed, painful pregnancy to term.

No, the governor’s bill is not extreme. It’s humane.

What’s extreme is forcing someone to spend the final weeks of their pregnancy wondering how much their newborn child will suffer before he dies.

Extreme would force children as young as 10 to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth to their rapist’s child.

Extreme would keep essential medications from the people who need them just because those drugs may be used for abortions.


Following the Supreme Court’s decision cutting down Roe v. Wade, those extremes have become real threats — largely because anti-abortion factions refuse to think of the issue in anything but absolutes.

Gov. Mills’s proposal appears to address the different circumstances that families can face, as, in their own way, do the abortion bills from Democratic lawmakers, by protecting providers and making sure cost and geography don’t determine the rights of pregnant Mainers.

The final wording of the bills has not been released. With such complex issues at hand, it will take legislative work to make sure these proposed laws do what their sponsors say they will and don’t themselves cause unforeseen difficulties.

But protecting reproductive rights isn’t “extreme” — it’s the right thing to do, which is why Mainers have supported it for decades.


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