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Bill To Provide Women's Reproductive Rights In Correctional Facilities Draws Unanimous Support

Legislation that would require correctional facilities in Maine to provide women’s reproductive health care drew broad support at a public hearing before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee — but county officials say they don’t have to funding to pay for it.

Several former inmates testified that they were deprived of basic reproductive health care during their time behind bars. Supporters of the bill say it’s critical that women get that care.

“We need to make sure that those mothers and their unborn children are protected and that they have the prenatal care that they need,” says midcoast District Attorney Natasha Irving, who supports the legislation.

But county commissioners like Amy Foster of Waldo County say the jails have to contend with a cap on yearly spending and don’t have the resources.

“Between our fiscal constraints, the risk and the liability that we hold every day, with everything from lack of staffing to the training that is essential for lot of these situations,” she says.

Commissioners say that if the state wants to pick up the bill, they would be willing to make sure that services are provided.