Maine GOP Proposes TRAP Law in Anti-Choice Push

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Maine GOP Proposes TRAP Law in Anti-Choice Push

Nina Liss-Schultz

Republicans in the Maine legislature are pushing forward a TRAP bill that would task the state Department of Health and Human Services with creating new licensing requirements targeting abortion clinics across the state.

Republicans in the Maine legislature are pushing forward a TRAP bill that would task the state Department of Health and Human Services with creating new licensing requirements targeting abortion clinics across the state.

Outpatient abortion clinics today in Maine are licensed by the state and “subject to strict oversight by Maine’s Board of Medicine,” according to the ACLU of Maine. LD 1312, introduced by state Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea), would increase clinic restrictions by requiring that abortion clinic staff apply annually for HHS licenses.

The measure would also require that licensed abortion clinics comply with the operational standards of the HHS. Those standards don’t exist, and the bill gives HHS the authority to write the rules on when clinic licenses should be granted and denied.

Maine Republicans hold a 20-15 senate majority, while Democrats have a 78-68 house advantage.

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Though proponents of the anti-choice measure say that it will make abortion safer, reproductive rights advocates maintain that the GOP law’s intent is to restrict access and shut down clinics.

“The reality is putting this law into place would give the Department of Health and Human Services the opportunity to come in whenever they see fit and add additional regulations,” said Nicole Clegg of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “And as we’ve seen in other states, there are real consequences to that.”

One of those states is Virginia, where the state Board of Health in 2013 enacted TRAP regulations requiring clinics to conform to the architectural standards of hospitals in order to get licensed. Three clinics there have closed since then, and the remainder are scrambling to comply.

“This bill looks like a way to sneak abortion restrictions into the law under the guise of routine regulation,” said the editorial board of CentralMaine.com. “This is too close to the approach used by anti-abortion lawmakers in other states to be taken at face value.”

Maine’s judiciary committee will hold a work session on the bill Wednesday, according to the legislature’s website.

The committee will also review a second anti-choice bill, LD 83. That bill, introduced by state Sen. Paul Davis (R), would force minors to receive the written consent of one of their parents or a legal guardian before getting an abortion.

Thirty-eight states require that parents be involved in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Though proponents of the laws argue that they create stronger families and help minors avoid making a decision they might regret, most minors voluntarily involve their parents in pregnancy outcome decisions.

And if they don’t, they often have a good reason.

The Maine bill would allow minors to bypass the parental consent requirement if they are the victim of sexual abuse or have a life threatening medical emergency. Minors can also petition a court for a parental consent waiver, and if the court finds by “clear and convincing evidence” that the minor is “sufficiently mature and well-informed to decide whether to have an abortion,” she can do so without the consent of her parent, according to the bill’s text.

If the court finds that the person is not “sufficiently mature,” she could be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

Though the majority of states allow minors to consent to a range of reproductive health services, including STI screening and treatment, contraception, prenatal care, and adoption, only two states and D.C. explicitly allow minors to consent to an abortion without parental involvement.