Maine access to Medical Education Program

This week, we feature testimony given at a Judiciary Committee hearing regarding LD 1339 and LD 760 – bills that would restrict access to abortion in Maine.

My name is Ruth Lockhart and I am Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor. We are one of only three public centers where a woman seeking an abortion in Maine can go.

I’m going to share with you how abortion care works at Mabel Wadsworth Center to dispel any myths or misconceptions about how are abortions are provided for women in Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington counties.

Most of the women who seek abortion care at Mabel Wadsworth Center are referred to us by their primary care physician, so they have already consulted with a doctor before coming to us. We conduct an intake screening for every woman. If the patient is seeking an abortion, we ask detailed questions about medical history, their reasons for seeking an abortion, and their support systems. We want to make sure that she has people in her life that she can talk to as she makes this decision.

If a woman seeking an abortion is from the Bangor area, we generally make two appointments for her. At the first appointment, we conduct a full medical exam including an ultrasound to confirm how far along she is in her pregnancy. We provide abortion care in the first trimester. Following the medical exam, we conduct a counseling/education session for all women where we offer them information about all of their pregnancy options – continuing the pregnancy to term and parenting, making an adoption plan or abortion. If the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, we see her for a second appointment and the abortion is performed by a fully licensed and experienced physician.

For adult women from Aroostook or Washington counties – particularly working mothers – we will sometimes schedule a single appointment where we perform first the exam, then the counseling/education session, then the abortion procedure. I grew up in the County in Fort Fairfield, so I understand well the barriers that transportation poses for women for whom a medical visit in Bangor means a 6 to 8 hour round-trip.

Most minors are accompanied by their mom or dad, but because not all minors can bring a parent, Maine’s adult involvement law assures that minors always have a trusted adult present and involved in their decision.

LD 1339 would eliminate Maine’s adult involvement law and require that every minor obtain parental consent, seek a judicial bypass, or sign an affidavit officially naming her parents as abusers.

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