Viewpoint: Essential health care includes abortion 

By Gail Marshall and Julian Kuffler, M.D., MPH 

May we begin on a personal note? Gail had an abortion by choice early in a pregnancy. It was the right decision. It was not the right time for us to have a child. It was not wrenching. It did not leave emotional scars or physical harm. It was straightforward. It was routine health care in Maine about a decade after Roe v. Wade was decided. When we were ready to have a child, we gladly chose to do so. This should be every woman’s-every couple’s-inviolate right in the 21st century just as it was in the latter part of the 20th. 

Banning abortion in the guise of “protecting the unborn” will lead to unnecessary deaths and suffering of women. Before Roe, that happened with regularity. For many centuries women have needed to end pregnancies. Women who cannot or should not care for a child or more children will not stop seeking abortions. Some women still medically need abortions to protect their lives. The wealthy will find the means and manner of obtaining safe abortions, just as they always have. The rest will risk their lives in secret, unsafe procedures. Some will pay with their lives. All will needlessly suffer. Enforcement against abortion will be harsh and at times will shock the conscience. 

Banning abortions means countless children will be brought into the world by a parent or parents unable to nurture and sustain them. Anti-abortionists never have and never will help provide for these children. That reveals the hollow dishonesty of their alleged concern for the “sanctity of life.” 

It is a fiction that from the moment of conception a separate “life” exists. It does not. Roe was predicated on the fact that at some point later in gestation a fetus is able to live outside the womb, and at that point of “viability” the state could have an interest in protecting the rights of that individual. Not before. But now it seems we are to be subjected to an extremist, factually impaired interpretation of human biology. 

Outlawing abortion is not about protecting the “unborn.” It is about allowing states to force women to bear and care for children against their will, even if the conception is a result of rape or incest. Already in some states there are proposals to prosecute a woman who has an abortion as a murderer. These are the acts of cruel and oppressive governments, which are, by definition, acts of tyranny.  

In our country, secular by constitutional design, women may be forced to live by the creed of others who argue their religion compels them to oppose abortion. In this version of America, you will no longer have to look to the Taliban to see what religious repression deployed against women looks like.  

Don’t feel too confident this would never happen in Maine. Paul LePage is the Republican running for governor. Without exception, it’s Republican-controlled states pushing these repressive laws. Janet Mills has and will respect and protect 

your personal rights. Paul LePage will actively work to eliminate them. In his prior terms, he regularly attended anti-abortion rallies and has voiced unequivocal support for restricting access to abortion. He’s being a bit vague about this right now. Do not be fooled. 

And don’t think this repressive behavior stops with abortion. Look at the recent Maine Republican Convention platform. Abortion is not the only agenda item. A Maine Republican government will also concern itself with extinguishing equal rights of, among others, the LGBTQ+ community; that is to say many people in our families and our communities. Do you think gay marriage is settled law as far as this Supreme Court and the Republican Party is concerned? Don’t bet on that.  

How about birth control? Far-fetched? Roe was immediately preceded by Griswold, a case overturning a state law banning contraception. The underlying rationales for the two decisions are very similar. The underlying and persisting objections to contraception are also very similar. One Republican governor has already refused to rule out a ban on contraception in his state. 

Terminating or limiting the rights of others based on fear, ignorance or intolerance is incompatible with the preservation of democracy. 

What will you do to protect your basic rights? Doing nothing is tantamount to consent. 

Make your concerns about this known to Senator Susan Collins, who is once again throwing women under the bus after years she has claimed she supports Roe. Overwhelming evidence contrary to her persistent claims she had the promise of Republican Supreme Court nominees to uphold Roe expose her as either a fraud or a fool, or both. To even a casual observer, the harsh draft opinion overturning Roe for the majority of this Supreme Court-all far-right Republican nominees is the least surprising thing they will ever do. 

Always vote. 

We have an election in November. It’s critically important you make the small effort to vote. Never vote for someone who might restrict what should be your right to control your reproductive health and your family planning decisions. 

We have a special election on June 14 to fill our State Senate seat vacancy. Vote for Nicole Grohoski to help prevent the current Republican Party in Maine from coming any closer to imposing their will on you and your family. 

A free society is one that strives to respect the personal integrity of each and every individual. That society would never force a woman to bear a child regardless of her personal circumstances.  


Gail Marshall and Dr. Julian Kuffler reside in Mount Desert. 

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