Maine Choice Coalition Marks Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
January 21, 2011 12:00 am

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Saturday, January 22 marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled that the right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution protects the women’s ability to choose whether to continue a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion.

Two generations of Americans have grown up with Roe v. Wade as the law of the land, and Americans still strongly support this decision. According to a recent Hart Research poll, 62 percent of voters oppose overturning the landmark decision.

“We believe strongly that Maine women and families must have access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care,” said Kate Brogan, Vice President for Public Affairs for the Family Planning Association of Maine. “A woman’s decision whether or not to have an abortion should remain between her, her family, her doctor, and her God, not the government.”

Multiple anti-abortion proposals have been introduced in Maine this year that could harm women’s health and restrict access to safe, legal abortions. The Maine Choice Coalition urges legislators to consider the views of Maine voters as they consider these restrictive measures.

“We must never return to the bad old days of back alley abortions,” said Megan Hannan, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Maine. “Abortion opponents, swept into office by a wave of economic discontent, are pulling a bait and switch by introducing bills that will take away health care benefits and rights from Maine women.”

Maine state law already mandates informed consent and adult involvement for abortion. Prior to an abortion, a minor must receive the consent of a parent, judge, or adult family member and/or receive options counseling from an approved counselor (22 MRSA, Section 1597-A). All women receive information about the risks of abortion and pregnancy and information about the alternatives to abortion (22 MRSA, Section 1599). Physicians and health care workers have the right to refuse to perform or assist in the delivery of abortion services if she or he has religious objections (22 MRSA, Section 1591). Family planning providers already perform health and statistical reporting on abortion to the Department of Health and Human Services. (22 MRSA, Section 1596).

“New restrictions on abortion and family planning are unnecessary given the commonsense protections already in place for years in Maine law,” said Ruth Lockhart, Executive Director for Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center. “Maine has some of the lowest teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and abortion rates in the country because we have responsible policies already in place to protect women’s health.”

Data on teen pregnancy and abortion rates are available at the Guttmacher Institute’s State Center. http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/index.html The United States Center for Disease Control publishes data on sexually transmitted diseases at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats09/default.htm

The Maine Choice Coalition members urge legislators to heed data that demonstrates large majorities of Maine voters favor comprehensive sexual education, broad access to contraception, and legal abortion.

“Republicans, Democrats and Independents have a long tradition of working together in Augusta to protect the health and well-being of women and families,” said Sarah Standiford, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby.

“This legislature must focus on fixing the economy, not resurrecting out-dated and out-of-touch policies that infringe on reproductive privacy,” said Laura Harper, Director of Public Policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby.

The Maine Choice Coalition works to promote safe and comprehensive access to a full range of family planning options including contraception and abortion.

“Women’s heath is best promoted when a woman has the information and access to make healthy life decisions based on her own values and her own unique circumstances,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “The Bill of Rights and the Constitution protects the rights of women and families to make their own family planning decisions, free from interference by the government and politicians.”

Members of the Maine Choice Coalition in Bangor celebrated Roe v. Wade at Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center on Thurday, January 20 with a “Choice and Chocolate” celebration and lecture.

In Portland, coalition members will commemorate Roe v. Wade with an event: Roe at 38: Celebration of Roe v. Wade Film & Discussion, Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 7pm-8:30pm, University of Southern Maine – Glickman Family Library – 7th floor in Portland, ME. RSVPs are required through Planned Parenthood. Event contact: Jenna Vendil, Grassroots Organizer (Maine), Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 207-221-2288 x101

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