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Maine lawmakers take up this week's second round of public hearings on abortion bills

The Maine State House on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
The Maine State House on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Days after the Maine Legislature considered proposals to protect and expand abortion rights, lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee held public hearings today Friday on several bills that aim to impose restrictions.

They include proposals to prevent "coerced" abortion, prohibit prescribing medication abortion through telehealth, and to end state Medicaid funding for abortions.

Gayle Baber of Dedham told lawmakers that she thinks some abortion-rights advocates are seeking "recreational" rights "to have sexual encounters with casual or unsafe partners."

"With every choice there is a consequence, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Maine residents should not be forced to pay for the misguided encounters of others through taxation and increased insurance premiums," Baber said.

Some supporters, including Mike McClellan of the Christian Civic League of Maine, insisted that the bills are focused on safety.

"It's really important to say we're not debating ending abortion here today," he said. "Today we're looking to make things as safe as possible for women."

The proposals are opposed by reproductive health providers, the ACLU of Maine and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. In a written statement, the groups said the bills are part of a nationwide strategy to block access to abortion and to shame and ostracize patients.