Maine's newly elected Democratic governor, Janet Mills, signed a bill Monday granting medical professionals who are not licensed doctors the authority to perform abortion procedures.
In a statement released Monday, Mills argued that the bill, which will allow registered nurses and physician assistants to administer abortion-inducing drugs and perform in-clinic abortions.
"Allowing qualified and licensed medical professionals to perform abortions will ensure that Maine women, especially those in rural areas, are able to access critical reproductive health care services when and where they need them from qualified providers they know and trust," Mills said.
Maine joins California, Colorado, Vermont, and New Hampshire in allowing individuals who are not licensed physicians to administer abortions.
"States across the country, including Vermont and New Hampshire, have already eliminated this outdated restriction on abortion care," said Democratic state representative Sara Gideon, who sponsored the bill. "This law will allow women to receive the care they need from a provider they trust and eliminate the financial and logistical hurdles they face today."
Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civil League of Maine, told the New York Times that his group objects to the bill on purely philosophical grounds but also raised a number of pragmatic concerns, including whether nurses would receive adequate training in how to administer abortions by the time the law takes effect in September, and whether patients might be placed in danger if they have an emergency medical complication at one of the remote clinics where the bill is designed to facilitate abortion access.