Wednesday, 16 May 2018 16:13

Court hears abortion funding case Featured

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AUGUSTA -  Should the state fund abortions for Mainecare recipients?

That was a question argued Wednesday before members of the Maine Supreme Court. The case the court justices will decide stems from a lawsuit filed against Maine's Department of Health and Human Services by the Maine chapter of the

 

American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three abortion providers. "The state here is discriminating between women who are pregnant and want to continue with their pregnancy and women who are pregnant and want to terminate those

 

pregnancies. And we believe that discrimination is irrational," said Zachary Heiden, Maine ACLU attorney.  The ACLU is appealing a decision made by a superior court judge backing the state's right to refuse Mainecare payments for abortions.

 

The assistant attorney general defending the state's position quoted a United States. Supreme Court ruling. "The right to abortion does not carry with it the right to a government funded abortion," Susan Herman, an assistant attorney general

 

told members of the court Wednesday morning. Herman declined to speak with the media following her presentation to the court. Heiden skirted questions about whether the justices gave any indication as to how they were leaning on the

 

issue. However, Heiden said, "Maine has a restriction on the use of funding for abortion that serves no state purpose."  Outside the court house, Andrea Irwin,  the executive director of the Mabel Wadsworth Center said, "We see every day

 

women that come to our facility in Bangor that are struggling with this decision because of financial reasons."   At least one justice suggested this issue might require a legislative remedy. On the other hand, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said it

 

appears there's nothing preventing the state from making abortion services part of Mainecare coverage. Only about a half hour was devoted to the oral arguments in the case Wednesday. However, it could be several weeks or months before a

 

decision is announced.

TJ Tremble

Reporter
[email protected]

T.J. Tremble joined WVII ABC 7 and WFVX FOX 22 in March 2016.

He was raised in Bangor, attended Bangor schools and graduated from John Bapst High School. He attended the University of Maine, studying political scienc...