Separating Fact From Fiction On Bill To Provide Women’s Safety

There seems to be a great deal of misinformation swirling around a bill I presented regarding the safety of the women in Maine. It’s a bill that’s being unfairly painted as “anti-abortion” legislation, in some cases by people who know better.

I submitted LD 1312, “An Act To License Outpatient Surgical Abortion Facilities” as a proactive measure to help ensure safe access to family planning services for all Maine women. Abortion clinics in Maine are the only outpatient surgical facilities in the state that currently operate with no oversight. This bill would simply bring them in line with every other such facility in the state. This bill is about safe access not restricting access.

The Maine Democrats, the Portland Press Herald Editorial Board and former Waterville Mayor Karen Heck are portraying this as similar legislation passed in Texas which placed unrealistic requirements on abortion clinics to shut them down. LD 1312 is nothing like the Texas bill. As Mario Moretto of the Bangor Daily News accurately surmised:

“Sanderson said she would specifically exclude abortion clinics from ‘brick-and-mortar’ requirements about surgery room size and hallway widths. Those standards were among those imposed in Texas that caused many providers to close their doors.”

It’s amazing the facts one can glean from actually reading the bill.

All this bill does is provide needed oversight to facilities that have been operating without rules or oversight for years. What this bill does not do, as Greg Kesich of the Portland Press Herald incorrectly wrote, is:

“…give the state Department of Health and Human Services enhanced authority to write rules for abortion clinics that could interfere with their operation …there is plenty of reason for those who support abortion rights to be concerned.”

No, actually there is not plenty of reason for those who support rights to be concerned as long as they’re operating within the same rules as every other outpatient, surgical facility. What the Press Herald neglects to tell you is that abortion clinics are the outlier here. They’re the ones not playing by the same rules as everyone else. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are no other outpatient surgical facilities, other than abortion clinics, that are exempt from licensing and inspection and no one has any idea why they were exempted in the first place.

Mr. Kesich’s assault on the facts continues:

“This is too close to the approach used by anti-abortion lawmakers in other states to be taken at face value.”

Nonsense. This bill mirrors legislation passed in Maryland with bipartisan support and signed into law by Democrat Martin O’Malley. The same Governor O’Malley who was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Maine Democratic Convention in Bangor. The bill’s passage was so transformational it was lauded in the New York Times. I do not believe this merely an oversight by Kesich. All of this information was provided to him by both a press release from my office and an extensive telephone conversation I had with him about this very issue.

Former Waterville Mayor Karen Heck picked up where Kesich left off:

“There has never been a report about unsafe clinic conditions except when a gun was fired at a clinic window in the early 1990s…”

Perhaps that’s because there has never been any oversight of these clinics who currently self-report any issues that may crop up. Is Mayor Heck saying we should wait until there is a preventative fatality before we decide to act?

Mayor Heck, who proclaims despicably dubbed herself “pro-abortion” as though that’s a badge of honor, also advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Maine as a way to provide safe care for Maine women. Seriously? Putting the state in economic peril is her solution? This plan hasn’t worked out that well for our friends in New Hampshire who have had to cut nursing home funding to pay for the same expansion Heck is advocating for. Apparently Mayor Heck is not pro-elderly.

As the mother of a young daughter, my hope is that Maine can follow Maryland’s lead and act in the best interest of the women all across Maine. I find the false accusations and personal attacks I’ve endured reprehensible and offensive but as my mother once told me; consider the source.

Deb Sanderson is beginning her third term as a Maine State Representative for House District 88 which includes Chelsea, Whitefield, Jefferson and part of Nobleboro.

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