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Maine Abortion Laws

Maine’s abortion laws are more accommodating for women seeking abortions than those of many other states. NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Maine an “A” grade for its choice related laws such as requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptive prescriptions and provides access to emergency contraception. On the other hand, Americans United for Life ranked Maine 31 out of all the states for not protecting parents’ rights to stop their girls from getting abortions.

Protection of Live Fetuses

In addition, Maine has laws to protect live fetuses. For example, if an abortion results in a live birth (i.e. breathing or having a beating heart after extraction from mother), the doctors must try to preserve the life and health of the baby. If they don’t they could be charged with a homicide crime or be civilly liable for wrongful death or medical malpractice. Also, the sale of live human fetuses is illegal in Maine.

Essentially, if a fetus was live born, then it can’t be used for experimentation. This may related to the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research and therapies to fix conditions like spinal cord injuries and heart disease.  

Abortion Laws in Maine

The following table lists the basic provisions of Maine’s abortion laws.

Code Section Maine Code Revised Title 22, Chapter 263-B: Abortions
Statutory Definition of Abortion An abortion is the intentional interruption of a pregnancy by the application of external agents, whether chemical or physical, or the ingestion of chemical agents with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.
Legal Abortions Before viability, an abortion performed by a physician is lawful. After viability, only abortions necessary to preserve life or health of mother are permitted.
Illegal Abortions Abortions performed by non-physicians or post-viability other than to preserve life and health of the mother.
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion The following actions are Class D crimes:
  • Performing abortion on minor without parental or court consent or an emergency (also subject to civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation)
  • Knowingly disregarding the viability of a fetus
  • Performing an abortion knowing it’s not necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother and the fetus is viable outside the womb

An unlicensed person performing an abortion is a Class C crime that can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Informed Consent All women, adult or teens, must provide informed written consent for the abortion. Informed consent requires the doctor to tell the patient in a non-misleading way, at least the following:
  • Confirm she’s pregnant
  • The number of weeks elapsed from the probable time of the conception (age of fetus)
  • The risks associated with her pregnancy and the abortion technique to be performed
  • At the woman's request, information on alternatives to abortion, such as childbirth, adoption, agencies to provide assistance, etc.
Parental Consent Both the girl who’s under 18 and one parent, guardian, or adult family member must give informed written consent for the abortion. However, in emergencies consent isn’t required. Also, a probate court judge can provide consent at the request of the pregnant minor.
Spousal Consent The U.S. Supreme Court decided it was unconstitutional to require a woman to get her spouse’s consent for an abortion in 1992.
Residency Requirements It’s been unconstitutional since 1973 to turn away women from other states for medical procedures, including abortion.
Physician Licensing Requirement Only licenses medical or osteopathic physicians can perform abortions in Maine.
Medical Professional Refusal to Perform Abortion A doctor, nurse, or hospital can refuse to perform abortions without being liable, lose their job, or be disciplined for that refusal.

If your constitutional right to have an abortion were infringed upon in Maine, you should talk to an experienced local health care or constitutional rights lawyer.

Note: State and federal laws change constantly, especially in a controversial area like abortion. Contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these abortion laws.

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