A pro-abortion group testified Thursday that the rights of Maine women are violated because the state won’t fund abortion services.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a hearing that Maine law is discriminatory because it prohibits state Medicaid from paying for abortion services, while it allows those funds to cover the cost of pregnancy services. The group’s suit claims that the uneven funding violates the Equal Protection Clause, and that the inequality should be repaired immediately.
The ACLU concluded that to favor pregnancy over abortion is inherently unfair, and asked the state to overturn the law.
Judge Andrew Horton heard the ACLU’s defense, filed on behalf of the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, Maine Family Planning, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, according to the Press Herald. While the lawsuit was initially filed in 2015, neither the plaintiff nor the defense made oral arguments on the case until Thursday.
“The choice and its constitutional protections are affected by the fact pregnancy services are funded and abortion isn’t,” said Maine’s ACLU legal director Zachary Heiden.
The Maine legislature can, however, fund abortions through MaineCare if it chooses to do so, said Susan Herman, the assistant attorney general representing Department of Health and Human Services. While the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal dollars from paying for abortions, it doesn’t bar the state from using its own program funds to pay for abortions. The ACLU hopes the state will take advantage of this loophole, but as of yet no Maine judge has ruled that it can.
This case is ongoing.
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