Gov. Mills: Maine won't help prosecute abortion seekers, providers

Gov. Janet Mills arrives at a coffee shop during an informal walking tour on May 25 in Hallowell. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
Gov. Janet Mills arrives at a coffee shop during an informal walking tour on May 25 in Hallowell. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Gov. Janet Mills took steps Tuesday to protect patients who come to Maine for an abortion and the medical professionals who assist them.

Mills signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from cooperating in another state's investigation into people, groups or health care providers over abortions or other reproductive health care that was delivered in Maine.

In so doing, Mills joined a growing list of governors moving to shield women who travel to their states for an abortion because they can no longer receive them in their home state. There is also concern that prosecutors in states where abortion is prohibited or severely restricted could target health care workers who perform the procedure in other states as well as organizations that assist women seeking reproductive care.

Abortion providers in Maine expect to see an increase in demand from women who live in states where abortion is likely to become illegal or extremely limited in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling essentially overturning Roe v. Wade.

“A woman’s right to choose is just that – a woman’s, not a politician’s,” Mills, a Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday evening. “This Executive Order makes clear that access to reproductive health care, and the health care providers who offer it, will be protected by my Administration.”

The executive order also states that Mills will exercise her discretion, as governor, to decline to arrest or extradite people who have been charged in another state for their involvement in reproductive health care that is otherwise legal in Maine. Mills is also directing state agencies to explore ways to reduce additional barriers to such services in Maine.

The Supreme Court decision is not expected to have any immediate impacts in Maine because a 1993 state law prohibits the state from taking any actions to interfere with a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability. Abortion is likely to be a major issue in the November elections in Maine, however, as Mills faces off against former Gov. Paul LePage – an abortion opponent – and as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of the Legislature.

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative and was first published by Maine Public Radio.


More from WBUR

Listen Live