Governor Mills Signs Legislation to Increase Access to Critical Reproductive Health Care for Women

(via the Office of Governor Janet T. Mills)

AUGUSTA, MAINE –Governor Janet Mills today signed a bill to improve access to critical reproductive health care for women across Maine. The bill, offered by Governor Mills and sponsored by Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, will allow physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions in addition to physicians.  As Attorney General, Governor Mills introduced a similar bill during the last legislative session.

            “Allowing qualified and licensed medical professionals to perform abortions will ensure that Maine women, especially those in rural areas, are able to access critical reproductive health care services when and where they need them from qualified providers they know and trust. These health care professionals are trained in family planning, counseling, and abortion procedures, the overwhelming majority of which are completed without complications,” said Governor Mills. “By signing this bill into law, Maine is defending the rights of women and taking a step towards equalizing access to care as other states are seeking to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate these services.”

“States across the country, including Vermont and New Hampshire, have already eliminated this outdated restriction on abortion care,” said Speaker Gideon. “This law will allow women to receive the care they need from a provider they trust and eliminate the financial and logistical hurdles they face today.”

LD 1261 “An Act To Authorize Certain Health Care Professionals To Perform Abortions” allows a physician assistant, an advanced practice registered nurse, allopathic or osteopathic physician licensed as such in Maine to perform abortions. Current Maine law bans Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs), including Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants from providing abortion care while citing no medical justification. As a result, women in rural areas of the state can be required to travel hours for reproductive care, despite the presence of qualified, experienced practitioners in their own communities.

Seven other states – New Hampshire, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, New York and Oregon – already permit nurse practitioners and APCs to perform abortions. Twenty other states allow APCs to provide abortion care in some capacity.

Numerous health organizations, including the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association support allowing advanced practice clinicians to perform abortion services.