April 11, 2019

Abortion, Get Involved, Health Care, Medicaid, Reproductive Justice, Reproductive Rights

LD 820, An Act To Prevent Discrimination in Public and Private Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women in Maine, was passed out of the legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee this week.

That’s great news! Thank you to everyone who showed up at the state house for the hearing or contacted the committee about this important reproductive and economic justice issue.

As MFP medical director Kohar Der Simonian wrote in her testimony, “LD 820 is not about abortion; it’s about equality and closing the health care disparities between the haves and the have-nots.”

What now?

The bill will now go for a vote before the House of Representatives and then on to the state Senate.

Now is the time to remind legislators of your support for equitable abortion coverage and ask them to end restrictions on access based on income or insurance plan.

We’ve provided some handy talking points here.

Find your legislators here. Please write to your individual legislators and put “I am your constituent” in the subject line, so they know you are a resident in their district.

You can also thank legislators who are already sponsors of the bill. Here is the list of LD 820 sponsors; if your legislators are included, be sure to cheer them on! If your legislators are not on this list, then your message to them is even more important.

Need more inspiration? Read this excerpt from powerful testimony by our own Nicky Mathieu, MFP’s Center for Reproductive Health Manager. As she told the committee, “I am the person on the other end of the phone when people call with questions about abortion, and to schedule their appointment. I am an expert in knowing what Mainers do to pay for their abortions.”

Here’s more from Nicky:

At my job, I speak with Mainers every single day from all walks of life who need abortions. This includes those with MaineCare, private health insurance, and no insurance at all.

Across this range of people, the number one question I’m asked is: “How much will this cost?” My answer: “It’s $500 unless you have insurance that covers abortion.”

It is rare that anyone hears that amount and says, “No problem, I’d like your next available appointment”. But it’s the people with Mainecare who are especially blindsided and unprepared to produce that fee in the limited time available.

So after I tell them $500, I pause and listen for their reaction. I hear a gasp, I get a panicked “Are you SERIOUS?!”, I hear sniffles through tears, or a defeated sigh, and sometimes, a hang up.

They may say, “But I do have health insurance: I have Mainecare!” “I’m sorry.” I tell them. “Mainecare excludes abortion services except in rare cases.”

So next comes more questions, and bargaining.

“How many weeks from now can I still have this done? I’ll need a couple more paychecks to save up.”

“If I can get my aunt to call and pay for me, do you have to tell her it’s for an abortion?”

“Who am I supposed to ask for help? No one else I know has this much money, either.”

“Can I make a payment plan? I could pay a little bit each month or so; I just don’t have it all now.”

“How could I withdraw that amount from our bank account? He controls the money; I don’t have any of my own.”

“My coworkers are already suspicious because I’ve been so sick, and everyone gossips there. If I ask to pick up extra shifts, they’ll want to know what’s going on, and I really want to keep this private.”

“I have $40 in my bank account, and that’s supposed to last me through the end of the month. I have kids at home who need to eat.”

“I’ve been staying on people’s couches for the past couple months. I can’t ask anyone for anything else.”

“I’ll ask my landlord if I can pay my rent late – again.”

“I’ll see if I have anything to sell at a pawn shop.”

“I’ll try to return some of my kids’ Christmas gifts.”

Let’s continue working together to make abortion meaningfully accessible regardless of how much money you make or what type of insurance you have.