High court weighs whether MaineCare must pay for abortions
Pro-choice advocates are asking the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to do what lawmakers have refused to do since 1979 — require MaineCare to pay for abortions for low-income pregnant women.
MaineCare, the state’s version of the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income residents, pays for abortions only in cases of rape, incest or if continuing a pregnancy to term would endanger the mother’s life. The state rule mirrors federal law. Medicaid is jointly funded by the state and federal governments.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine in November 2015 sued the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which administers MaineCare, in Cumberland County Superior Court on behalf of the state’s three abortion providers, the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center In Bangor, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Portland and Maine Family Planning in Augusta.
Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton in October granted summary judgment to DHHS, rejecting arguments that the ban on MaineCare reimbursement for abortions restricts a woman’s ability to exercise her right to terminate a pregnancy, which would violate state law and the Maine Constitution.
The ACLU of Maine appealed the decision to the state’s high court. Oral arguments in the case will be heard at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.
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