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Maine Supreme Court to hear arguments on whether MaineCare must pay for abortions

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine will make arguments before the state Supreme Court Wednesday that abortions should be covered by MaineCare. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME/BDN) -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine will make arguments before the state Supreme Court Wednesday that abortions should be covered by MaineCare.

MaineCare, the state’s version of the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income residents, currently helps cover the cost associated with a woman's pregnancy but not for her to get an abortion.

The ACLU of Maine and three abortion providers are arguing that MaineCare should pay for abortions and are taking it to the state’s highest court.

They say not covering the costs of abortions violates state law and the constitution.

In 2015, the ACLU of Maine sued the Maine Department of Health and Human Services which administers MaineCare ...however in October the cumberland county Superior Court ruled in favor of DHHS. The ACLU is now appealing that decision.

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.

MaineCare currently only pays for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if continuing a pregnancy to term would endanger the mother’s life.

According to the Bangor Daily News, federal law allows the state to pay for abortions for low-income women but lawmakers or DHHS would have to create a separate fund.

Legislative efforts in Maine to create such a fund failed in 1979 and 2007.

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