pre-Roe statute prohibited performance of an abortion
unless the procedure was “necessary for the preservation of
the mother’s life.” The
statute was repealed in 1979, and
would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade. Abortions
could be performed for any reason before viability, and for
virtually any reason after viability.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 51 (West
Laws 513, ch. 405, § 1 (1st Sess.).
Maine enacted a statement of policy regarding abortion: “It
is the public policy of the State that the State not restrict
a woman’s exercise of her private decision to terminate
a pregnancy before viability except as provided in section
1597-A [transferred to § 1598(A)].” 1993 Me Laws ch. 61, § 2. No
such statement of public policy is required to make abortion
legal in any State. In the absence of specific legislation
making abortion criminal (either pre- or post-Roe),
abortion would remain legal even if Roe v. Wade were
of its undefined health exception, Maine’s post-viability
statute, see Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22, § 1598(4) (West 2004),
would not effectively prohibit post-viability abortions. In
interpreting the undefined health exception in the pre-Roe District
of Columbia abortion statute, the Supreme Court held that “the general usage and modern understanding of the word ‘health’ .
. . includes psychological as well as physical well-being.” United
States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62, 72 (1971). See also
Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973) (in determining
whether an abortion is medically necessary, “all factors– physical,
emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant
to the well-being of the patient” may be considered). There
would be few, if any, abortions that could not be justified
on psychological or emotional grounds.