Phil Hirschkorn of WMTW-TV called it “the most well-attended public hearing of the year” after more than 1,000 people met at the State House in Augusta, Maine, on Monday and Tuesday to protest a new proposal which would greatly expand abortion access in the state.
Earlier this year, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, introduced a bill which would allow women to abort their unborn children legally, perhaps until moments before birth, so long as a medical professional considered such an abortion “necessary.” Abortion is currently illegal in Maine after a woman’s pregnancy has gone 24 weeks.
On Monday, pro-lifers swarmed the capitol building to demonstrate peacefully on behalf of the unborn. LifeNews.com estimated that as many as 1,500 pro-lifers gathered at the Maine State House, and nearly 700 denounced the bill during the hearing, vastly outnumbering the 65 people who spoke in favor of it.
“If a baby can survive outside its mother, that means that it is alive. It has a life,” Audrey Wimmer said during the hearing. “By terminating viable pregnancies, we are being shown that lives don’t matter, and that isn’t important.”
“I think it is wrong to be killing our babies when they could be living,” said Ann Dowdy, who brought her daughter, Rejoice, with her. “My daughter was born at 24 weeks gestation here in Augusta almost two years ago.”
“We’re not talking about something done to some helpless tissue,” added Eric Winter. “This is a body with arms and legs and a heartbeat and face that is exposed to abortion by this bill.”
Some women who spoke in favor of the bill made emotion-based arguments to defend previous decisions to have a late-term abortion. “This was the hardest, most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching situation anyone could ever face,” said Zoe Reich, who ultimately had a late-term abortion in Colorado. She added, “I was denied critical abortion care when I needed it the most because of a cruel and arbitrary timeline set by politicians and not doctors.”
Dana Peirce justified her late-term abortion by claiming that her unborn son — diagnosed with a lethal, rare genetic mutation — “faced death by suffocation if he survived delivery.”
The marathon hearing regarding the bill continued for nearly 19 hours, from noon on Monday until 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Despite the overwhelmingly pro-life presence, the Democrat-controlled legislature in Maine is expected to pass the governor’s bill.
Still, those in favor of life remain hopeful. “Many citizens have deep, deep convictions about this issue,” said Carroll Conley, the executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine. “I hope and pray that our sheer numbers will give you affirmation that the majority of Mainers do not support the governor’s bill to kill our newborns,” added Andy Levesque, a board member of Maine Right to Life.
This week, Maine legislators discussed four other abortion-related bills, all of which would likely limit the number of abortions performed in the state. One bill would end MaineCare funding of abortion, another would ban abortion by mail or telehealth, a third would require women to wait 48 hours before having an abortion, and a fourth would outlaw coercing a woman into an abortion. There is also a hearing scheduled for May 12 to discuss making abortion a state constitutional right.
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