Protecting Abortion Access for All Maine Women

Lawsuit to Protect Abortion Access for All Maine Women

Background: In 1977, the Hyde Amendment barred the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions. While states are free to use their own funds to cover abortion, Maine does not. As a result, MaineCare covers pregnancy-related care for women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term, but withholds coverage from eligible women who decide to have an abortion. This is a violation of Maine public policy and the Maine Constitution. Maine should not use the Medicaid program to coerce poor women into having children, and to punish those who decide abortion is the best decision for them and their families.

I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the...Medicaid bill. –Rep. Henry Hyde, 1977

The Hyde Amendment is designed to deprive poor and minority women of the constitutional right to choose abortion. –Justice Thurgood Marshall, 1980


The problem

  • Women who use MaineCare for their health insurance face government- imposed barriers to abortion. 

  • Restricting MaineCare coverage of abortion forces some women to delay needed health care, which increases the risk to their health. 

  • This policy interferes with a woman’s fundamental right to decide 
whether to continue a pregnancy.

The bottom line

  • Women – not politicians – should make the decision about whether to 
have a baby or not. That is true no matter how much money a woman makes. 

  • We cannot know every woman’s situation. Women must be able to make 
important, personal decisions based on what is best for them and their families. 

  • Discriminating against women who decide to have an abortion violates the Maine Constitution and state law prohibiting interference with a woman’s private decision to have an abortion. The solution

  • The ACLU has filed a lawsuit, on behalf of three health care providers who 
perform abortions, to restore MaineCare coverage of abortion. 

  • Currently, 17 states use their own funds to cover all or most medically 
necessary abortions. 13 of them do so as the result of a court order. 

  • Restoring MaineCare coverage of abortion will “right the ship” and bring Maine in line with official public policy and the state Constitution.