The Maine Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on May 20 issued divided reports on six anti-abortion rights bills, with the majority recommending against passage. The committee, composed of seven Democrats and five Republicans, along with independent Jeffrey Evangelos and Regina Newell of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, split along party lines; Evangelos and Newell sided with Democrats, adding to the opposition.

Two of the bills, LD 748 and 915, would adopt the guidelines of the federal Hyde Amendment, which would eliminate most abortion services available through MaineCare. Supporters argued for consistency of federal and state rules, while opponents said it would create a disparity in abortion services based on ability to pay.

LD 825 and LD 851 would require abortion providers to advise patients about alternatives. Supporters described the goal in terms of informed consent. Opponents saw it as put obstacles in the path of women seeking abortions. LD 851, sponsored by Rep. Abigail Griffin, R-Levant, would require providers to tell patients about a controversial abortion pill reversal therapy.

Another bill sponsored by Rep. Griffin, LD 1229, would require providers to administer an ultrasound, a procedure typically reserved for prenatal care, and make sure the woman receives information on abortion alternatives and parenting at least 48 hours before an abortion.

The final bill, LD 1225, sponsored by Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Kennebec County, would require aborted fetal remains to be buried or cremated.

“It’s not judging why they’re doing it or whatever,” Cyrway said. “But I think you just want to make sure the baby is taken care of appropriately.”

Similar bills have passed in roughly 10 other Republican-controlled states, according to the Associated Press. Cyrway said he looked to a bill recently signed into law in Tennessee but made some amendments to make it less partisan after hearing testimony on the Maine bill.

Rep. Evangelos, of Friendship, who opposed the slate of bills, said he didn’t feel it was any of his business: “It just isn’t. It’s the business of one woman. It’s the law of the land, and I don’t want to know about it. I don’t want to govern on it. You know, she has to do what she thinks is best.”

Rep. Jim Thorne, R-Carmel, made an emotional statement in support of the bill. “Yesterday we passed a bill making it illegal to throw away balloons, but we can’t make it illegal to throw away a baby,” he said, his voice quavering.

LD 1023, “An Act To Define Intentional Balloon Releases as Litter,” passed the House on May 19. Thorne voted against it.

The five bills went before the Judiciary Committee the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court began its review of a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and states across the country are considering a wave of anti-abortion legislation, in what the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute recently called “a shock and awe campaign against abortion rights.”