The state of Maine, often referred to as Vacationland, is usually a relaxed-paced, quiet little corner of the country. However, with two controversial bills recently being signed into law, there are some concerned individuals who want the people of the state to get a say in whether these bills should be enacted or overturned.
The two recent bills, LD 1313, “An Act To Enact the Death with Dignity Act,” and LD 820, “An Act To Prevent Discrimination in Public and Private Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women in Maine,” were signed into law respectively on June 12th and June 13th of this year by Maine’s Democratic Governor, Janet Mills. While unrelated, the bills seemed to strike a similar serious nerve to a portion of the Maine populace.
LD 1313 legalizes physician-assisted suicide in Maine. In September, when the bill goes into effect, Maine will be one of nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, to have legalized physician-assisted suicide. The bill would require that the patient must be at least 18 years of age, and must by considered competent by opinion of court or of the patient’s attending physician or consulting physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Other preventive measures are in place as well.
Governor Mills had this to say on why she decided to sign LD 1313: “The opportunity for someone of sound mind facing imminent death to avoid further suffering is viewed purely as an act of personal liberty by some, a decision with which the government should not interfere.”
Only a day after she signed that bill, another controversial bill, LD 820, was signed into law. The bill would allow coverage for abortion services for MaineCare members and requires private insurance companies that provide coverage for maternity services to also cover legal abortion services. Religious employers would be exempt.
Governor Mills supported the bill, stating, “Access to the full spectrum of health care is integral to a person’s physical, mental, and economic well-being. We believe that every person in Maine has a right to make their own personal medical decisions and access sexual and reproductive health care when and where they need it.”
When the law goes into effect, Maine will be the 18th state to allow for taxpayer-funded abortions.
While Governor Mills feels confident that supporting these bills was the correct decision, others have expressed misgivings towards them. One of those is Penny Morrell, the state director of Concerned Women for America of Maine, one of the groups, along with the Christian Civic League of Maine and Maine Right to Life, who are amongst the vanguards in trying to get the People’s Veto passed by September.
Morrell believes that while “many who support physician-assisted suicide have the best of intentions,” she is worried that “if a physician-assisted suicide bill were ever to be enacted it could have grave, unintended consequences by making assisted suicide the only affordable health care option for many Mainers.” Morrell also believes, “The so-called ‘right to die’ could all too quickly become the ‘duty to die’ for our elderly who may erroneously consider themselves to be a burden on their loved ones.”
Equally concerned about LD 820, Morrell has stated, “Abortion is not health care” and “lawmakers should be enacting laws that enrich life, not destroying it.” Furthermore, she has argued that “recent polls show 62% of Mainers oppose taxpayer funded abortions according to the Tarrance Group, and that we (Maine) already pay for elective abortions for MaineCare patients if health or life is in danger for the patient, OR for hardship cases in which pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.”
Whether Morrell and her fellow citizens’ apprehension towards these bills are rightly grounded is a moot point if they fail to receive the 64,602 signatures required. The People’s Veto must get 10% of the last election’s gubernatorial totals in order to get the petition through. If successful, however, it will put the decision into the hands of the citizens of Maine in the upcoming November elections.
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