The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Victory for Women’s Health Care in Maine?

Maine governor Janet Mills signed a bill earlier this week allowing non-doctors — including nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and midwives — to perform abortion procedures.

As with all legislation undoing abortion restrictions, the measure has been hailed by pro-abortion activist groups as a boon for women’s health. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen called Mills a “champion” for expanding “access to abortion care services.” NARAL, meanwhile, claimed that the bill is a victory because “states across the country needlessly prohibit” non-doctors from performing “abortion care.”

But those prohibitions are not needless at all. Even for those who wrongly consider abortion to be a form of health care — rather than acknowledging that abortion procedures end distinct human lives — Maine’s provision is not a cause for celebration.

Contrary to the claims of abortion maximalists like Wen and NARAL, restrictions on who can perform abortions are not a nefarious invention of pro-life legislators intended to harm women. Far from it. Advocates of unlimited abortion would like us to believe otherwise, but abortion procedures are not as simple as having a tooth pulled, especially later in pregnancy. Removing a fully formed fetus from a mother is a complex surgical procedure, prone to serious complications.

Requirements that abortions be performed by doctors are in fact intended to protect women, much the same way that state laws requiring minimum health-and-safety standards in abortion facilities are designed to ensure that women obtaining abortions are at less risk for serious medical complications. Groups that claim to advocate “women’s health” are always the first to challenge these sorts of measures.

If Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Democratic politicians like Janet Mills were sincere in their desire to “champion” women and prioritize their health-care needs, they wouldn’t champion legislation that increases the risks of abortion.

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