Maine Sens. Vitelli, Daughtry, Carney join White House meeting on reproductive rights

Posted: November 08, 2023 | Senator Carney, Senator Daughtry, Senator Vitelli

Senators were among over 40 state legislators to share status of status of reproductive rights with Biden-Harris Administration

AUGUSTA — Last week, Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, and Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth joined over 40 lawmakers from 16 states to discuss the status of reproductive rights with White House officials. The convening was hosted remotely on Nov. 1.

“Being able to control one’s reproductive health is key to being able to control one’s life. Access to this care is vital to gaining and maintaining stable financial footing. It’s a matter of equal rights,” said Sen. Vitelli. “As someone who remembers a time before Roe v. Wade, I’ve seen how a lack of access to safe, legal abortion hurts women. It’s vital that we continue to defend this right for generations to come.”

“Access to health care, including reproductive care, is a human right. As elected leaders, we need to do all we can to protect Mainers’ access to all reproductive health care, from fertility treatment, to birth control, to compassionate abortion care,” said Sen. Daughtry. “I’m proud to serve alongside so many leaders who are dedicated to standing up for the rights of Maine patients.”

“As Senate chair of the Judiciary Committee, It was my duty and honor to oversee 19 hours of testimony on a bill to update Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act. This public hearing, as well as the debate in the Senate Chamber, underscored just how personal this issue is for each of us,” said Sen. Carney. “Every Mainer deserves to make these important health care decisions with the professional guidance of their trusted physician and the support of family members, so patients can choose the best possible care for themselves and their family.”  

The convening builds on more than two dozen White House-led working meetings with state legislators in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, including an in-person convening of more than 80 state legislators from 41 states in June 2023.

This year, Maine legislators passed a variety of laws to protect Mainers’ access to reproductive health care, including measures to:

  • Improve access to prescription contraceptives. To make birth control more accessible, the Maine Legislature passed a law to make certain types of contraceptives available over-the-counter at the pharmacy. (LD 351)
  • Protect reproductive health care providers. With the right to abortion under attack across the country, Maine codified into law the ability of licensed clinicians to provide abortion care to patients traveling to Maine without threats to their ability to practice. The law also prevents medical malpractice insurance providers from discriminating against abortion providers by denying coverage, discriminatorily increasing rates or taking other actions against a provider based on the legal service they provide. (LD 616)
  • Prevent municipalities from undermining access to reproductive care. A new law prohibits towns or municipalities from enacting any local ordinance in conflict with Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act. (LD 1343)
  • Improve access to abortion care. A new law removes financial barriers to abortion care by preventing state-regulated health care plans from imposing any deductible, copayment, coinsurance or any other cost-sharing requirement for abortion services effective January 1, 2024. (LD 935)
  • Update Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act. A new law will allow patients to access abortion care later in pregnancy only when it is deemed necessary in the professional judgment of a licensed medical doctor or osteopathic physician, and meets the standards of care applicable to obstetricians. This change in our laws will ensure that patients facing these rare and tragic diagnoses can make the best decision for themselves and their families, choosing among the options laid out by a doctor they trust. (LD 1619)

Lawmakers also rejected bills to undermine and limit access to abortion care, including: 

  • A measure that sought to deny Mainers access to abortion due to their type of health care plan. (LD 494)
  • A measure that sought to prohibit the prescription of safe abortion-inducing drugs that have been on the market for decades and criminalize health care providers. (LD 1249)
  • A measure to force pregnant patients to undergo an invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasound and essentially, imposing a 48 hour waiting period, before a patient may receive abortion care. (LD 1614)

White House senior officials thanked the legislators for their leadership and reaffirmed the importance of state partners in responding to attacks on reproductive freedom – including through the passage of proactive legislation to strengthen access to reproductive health care, including contraception; to protect patient privacy; and to ensure health care providers have access to the training they need to care for patients.