PORTLAND, Maine: U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee joined Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey today to affirm their commitment to ensuring safe, unfettered access to reproductive health care services in Maine for all who seek it.
McElwee and Frey have committed to open lines of communications and, when appropriate, to share intelligence and information in order to facilitate efficient decision-making in protecting reproductive rights. They also committed resources of their respective offices to work together to conduct a series of outreach sessions with stakeholders, such as reproductive service providers and advocates, to send a clear message that law enforcement at all levels will protect reproductive rights in Maine.
“In Maine, there is a legal right to choose whether to have an abortion, and we are committed to ensuring that anyone who seeks reproductive care in Maine has unobstructed access to consultation with the medical providers and health services they choose,” said U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee.
“We want it known that our offices will not allow any interference in the rights of citizens to access abortion services in Maine,” said Attorney General Aaron Frey. “Our offices will not hesitate to take every legal action to ensure the free access to reproductive health care and legal abortion services.”
U.S. Attorney McElwee emphasized that the right to safe reproductive health services in Maine extends to those who travel from states where abortion access is limited or nonexistent.
“Restricting access to safe abortions provided by caring and qualified health care providers has the greatest impact on people of color and those with limited financial resources,” McElwee said. “Millions of Americans are being deprived of the right to make personal choices that are available here in Maine. If they chose to come to Maine, we will do everything within the law to ensure they have safe access to the health care services that brought them here.”
The federal government may bring criminal charges under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (“FACE”) Act, which prohibits obstructing access to reproductive health services through violence, threats of violence, or property damage. The statute protects all patients, providers, and facilities that provide reproductive health services, including pro-life pregnancy counseling services and any other pregnancy support facility providing reproductive health care. Both the federal government and state attorneys general may file civil actions for FACE Act violations to obtain remedies not available through a criminal prosecution.
The State also has authority under the Maine Civil Rights Act to bring a civil or criminal enforcement action against individuals who intentionally interfere with a patient’s access to reproductive healthcare by obstructing access to the clinic or knowingly entering the medical safety zone around the entrance to the clinic.
Anyone with knowledge of FACE Act violations in Maine can contact the local office of the FBI at 207-541-0700.
“In collaboration with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine will continue to do everything within our legal authority to protect reproductive freedom,” McElwee said. “And we will use every tool available to keep Maine patients and health care providers safe.”
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