May 1, 2019

Abortion, Health Care

On Wednesday, May 1, the legislature’s Committee On Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services (HCIFS) will hold a hearing on LD 1261, a bill that would end Maine’s outdated law preventing qualified and trained nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians (APCs) from providing abortion care.

Maine Family Planning supports this bill, along with our allies at the ACLU of Maine, Mabel Wadsworth Center, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (we sued to overturn the ban with these same groups). There is no medical reason why highly skilled and trained nurse practitioners like the ones who work in our 18 clinics statewide should not be able to offer abortion care. Studies have shown: Abortion is safe, and APCs can provide this care safely.

That’s why major health organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, and the American Public Health Association, support allowing nurse practitioners to provide abortion services. Vermont, New Hampshire, and several other states already allow APCs to provide this care. Banning qualified health professionals from providing one specific type of health care isn’t medically sound; politicians drawing arbitrary lines about what providers can and can’t do makes little sense.

Decisions of this nature should be driven by the facts.

And the fact is, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physicians assistants are qualified and able to provide abortion care. In fact, they perform many medical procedures more complex and complicated than abortion, every day.

Passing this bill would also improve Maine Family Planning’s telemedicine abortion program, which expands access to safe and legal abortion care in Maine’s rural communities. The existing ban makes providing abortion services via telemedicine needlessly burdensome for patients and providers alike, requiring a scheduled videoconference with a physician when a qualified nurse practitioner is available to provide the necessary care.

We’ll be in Augusta on Wednesday, testifying in support of LD 1261. Stay tuned for the latest on this bill to bring Maine in line with common sense health policy.